The city is trying to strip Queens Boulevard of the unflattering sobriquet "Boulevard of Death" and rebrand it the Boulevard of LIFE with a dramatic $100 million overhaul, starting between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street. The redesign adds separated bike lanes and pedestrian paths along the medians separating the main road from the service roads on either side, narrowing the service roads to one car lane for much of their length. It also adds stop signs, pedestrian islands, sidewalk bulbs, and crosswalks along the chaotic street, and seeks to cut down on speeding in the run-up to Brooklyn-Queens Expressway entrances.
"Work has begun to turn Queens Boulevard into a 'Boulevard of Life'—literally remaking this street, rewriting its future, making it safe for all," Mayor de Blasio said at a press conference today.
A look at the basic design for much of the stretch of Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street. (Department of Transportation)
Specific changes include:
- Making drivers who are merging onto service roads through openings in the concrete divider stop at stop signs, then turn, rather than driving straight through.
- Adding landscaped pedestrian paths to medians, a pedestrian island on the westbound side of the intersection with 50th Street, and pedestrian plazas at 60th Street, which doesn't currently go through.
- Closing median cut-throughs between 55th and 56th streets and cutting off access to the eastbound service road at 56th street.
- Bumping out medians at 63rd Street to ease crossing on foot.
- At 68th Street, on the westbound side, bumping out the sidewalk to make crossing the BQE on-ramp a shorter trip, and adding a signal for drivers turning onto the expressway.
- Build a raised bike path to keep cars out for the narrow stretch below the underpass near 67th Street.
- Adding a mid-block traffic signal and pedestrian crossing between 73rd and 74th streets.
Instead of being able to slip from the main road onto the service road without slowing, drivers will have to stop. (Department of Transportation)
For a full rundown of the plan, check out this (warning: PDF) Department of Transportation presentation.
Get a load of this whimsical raised bike track at 67th Street. (Department of Transportation)
Construction of the next section, between 73rd Street and Eliot Avenue, is supposed to begin next year. The redesign will eventually stretch all the way to Union Turnpike when all is said and done. One hundred eight-five people have died in crashes on Queens Boulevard since 1990, according to the city. The project is one of four Great Streets overhauls that the city has set aside $250 million for altogether. Grand Concourse in the Bronx, and Fourth Avenue and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn are also getting the pedestrian-and-bike-friendly treatment.
The problem with the Boulevard of Life moniker, as my colleague Chris Robbins points out, is that when someone dies on the road, as will eventually happen, de Blasio critics will have a ready piece of ammunition to throw back in his face.