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Pedestrian Islands Coming to Deadly Northern Boulevard Intersection

The striped median on Northern Boulevard at 61st Street, right, is set to receive concrete pedestrian islands, like those on Hillside Avenue, right. Image: DOT
The striped median on Northern Boulevard at 61st Street, right, is set to receive concrete pedestrian islands, like those on Hillside Avenue, right. Image: DOT
The striped median on Northern Boulevard at 61st Street, right, is set to receive concrete pedestrian islands, like those on Hillside Avenue, right. Image: DOT

The intersection of Northern Boulevard and 61st Street in Woodside, where an unlicensed truck driver making a left turn through a crosswalk killed 8-year-old Noshat Nahian on his way to school last December, is set for some pedestrian safety fixes after months of work by elected officials and street safety advocates.

Members of Make Queens Safer said they hoped it was the first of many design changes DOT would make to Northern Boulevard, which ranks as one of the most dangerous streets for pedestrians in Queens.

The plan for the 61st Street intersection, first reported by the Daily News, includes the addition of concrete pedestrian islands and the elimination of left turns from westbound Northern Boulevard to southbound 61st Street. It will also adjust signals to increase crossing time for pedestrians and feature new school zone crosswalk markings and signage. DOT has already restricted some on-street parking to "daylight" the intersection's northeast corner and improve visibility for pedestrians and drivers. Construction is set to begin this month and wrap up within weeks.

Immediately prior to announcing his Vision Zero agenda last January at PS 152, where Nahian was walking to school before he was killed, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the intersection with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

A week before, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer visited the intersection with police, transportation, and education officials. Since then, an additional crossing guard has been added for PS 152, Van Bramer's office said. In February, Van Bramer joined Senator Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Marge Markey, and representatives from Transportation Alternatives and Make Queens Safer to call for Northern Boulevard to be made a priority of the mayor's Vision Zero traffic safety initiative.

"We are pleased that The DOT has developed a multi-pronged plan to improve the treacherous intersection at Northern Boulevard and 61st Street," Make Queens Safer said in a statement. The group has called on council members along Northern Boulevard to work with DOT on workshops to redesign the entirety of the street. "We hope, and we do believe, that this DOT initiative marks the first of many, to achieve a complete re-visioning of Northern Boulevard across its wide stretch throughout Queens."

“We must do everything possible to make sure that no child is ever harmed trying to cross the street to get to PS 152," Van Bramer said in a statement. "We continue to mourn Noshat Nahian and we are as committed as ever to making Vision Zero a reality.”

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