Queens Blvd Gets “Slow Zone” Label, But Speed Limit Remains the Same

Yesterday, DOT announced that Queens Boulevard, one of the city’s deadliest streets, would be part of its arterial slow zone initiative that reduces speed limits from 30 to 25 mph. But unlike other streets in the program, Queens Boulevard would have its limit dropped from 35 to 30 mph. Trouble is, the speed limit on Queens Boulevard is already 30 mph, and it’s been that way since 2001.

Nisath Hossain, 58, was killed by a hit-and-run driver last year on Queens Boulevard. DOT says the "Boulevard of Death" will be a "slow zone" -- but the speed limit will remain the same. Photo via WABC
Nisath Hossain, 58, was killed by a hit-and-run driver last year on Queens Boulevard. DOT says the “Boulevard of Death” will be a “slow zone” — but the speed limit will stay the same. Photo via WABC

The discrepancy was spotted by Peter Beadle, a Rego Park resident active in efforts to get DOT to study a street safety redesign for Queens Boulevard. “It’s very strange,” Beadle said. “I’m hoping it’s just an error. I’m hoping that it isn’t someone trying to be clever.”

The arterial slow zone program “reduces posted speed limits from 30 to 25 mph” on the city’s most dangerous streets, reads DOT’s press release for yesterday’s announcement. “Queens Boulevard, which was previously signed for 35 mph, is similarly reduced by five to 30 mph.” The street is included as one of the 25 corridors in the program.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s office asked DOT before yesterday’s announcement why Queens Boulevard wouldn’t get a 25 mph limit like the other streets. According to Van Bramer’s staff, DOT said it is lowering the Queens Boulevard speed limit to 30 mph because it is currently set at 35 mph in some sections.

Here’s the rub: Queens Boulevard did have a 35 mph limit between Roosevelt and 51st Avenues, but then-Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall lowered it to 30 mph in February 2001 [PDF]. (A Daily News report from the time says the 35 mph zone ran only from Roosevelt to 63rd Street.)

DOT spokesperson Scott Gastel said the press release refers to Weinshall’s action more than a decade ago.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said that while the arterial slow zone program won’t lower the speed limit on Queens Boulevard, it will bring other components like signs and increased enforcement from NYPD. She added that DOT will take a look at adjusting the signal timing on Queens Boulevard, though its speed limit will remain at 30 mph.

“Our engineers felt like 30 was really the right speed for that street,” she said. “At this time, we are not going to change the speed limit.” A DOT spokesperson later followed up via email to say that the agency is not ruling out reducing speed limits on Queens Boulevard below 30 mph in the future.

“Every other street is being reduced to 25, except for Queens Boulevard,” Beadle said. “If there is a street in Queens that needs to have cars slowed down, it’s the Boulevard of Death.” Council Member Daniel Dromm, whose district includes a section of Queens Boulevard, agrees: His office said he supports a 25 mph speed limit on the street.

Since 2008, there have been 23 fatalities on Queens Boulevard, according to DOT. Speed is the leading cause of traffic deaths in New York City.

  • J

    Based on this logic, every street is part of the slow zone program, and DOT doesn’t have to lift a finger.

  • Jeff

    This just dilutes the slow zone “brand”.

    How about this for a compromise: We lower the speed limit to 25 MPH, and instead of sacrificing human life to maintain motoring convenience, we close the street to vehicular traffic once a month and have a ceremony in which we sacrifice goats to the almighty gods of the automobile. Weird robes, sprinkling goat blood into a ceremonial goblet of gasoline, the works. I myself don’t understand why some insist that we sacrifice life for the benefit of a specific mode of transportation, but if that’s how it has to be, I’d rather sacrifice goats than people.

    Does anyone know any goat farmers?

  • Clarke

    They have to print up those pretty signs, but that’s about it.

  • R

    “Our engineers felt like 30 was really the right speed for that street.”

    If only we had pedestrian engineers.

  • JK

    Queens Boulevard, the iconic Boulevard of Death itself, needs far more than signal re-timing.

  • Rabi

    This is an incredibly disappointing move. It’s way too early in the Vision Zero push for DOT to already be figuring out ways to pretend to be doing things without actually doing anything.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    The DOT just doesn’t focus enough on Queens, let alone Eastern Queens. We know where people are being killed and how to stop it, but there just isn’t enough being done.

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