Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Pedestrian Infrastructure

Deadly Woodhaven Boulevard and NYC’s Broken Community Board Process

4:54 PM EDT on October 25, 2016

Cross Bay Boulevard and 149th Avenue, where Jazmine Marin was struck and killed yesterday. Queens Community Board 9 does not want to change this street. Image: Google Maps

Yesterday morning, a driver struck and killed 13-year-old Jazmine Marin as she walked across Cross Bay Boulevard at 149th Avenue on her way to school. The location is deadly -- one other person has been struck and killed there since 2012, and Cross Bay is one of the most dangerous streets in the city. From 2009 to 2013, 17 pedestrians lost their lives on Cross Bay and Woodhaven Boulevard (the name of the same street north of Liberty Avenue) [PDF].

And yet, opponents of DOT's Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service project -- which would create safer conditions by expanding pedestrian space and restricting vehicular turns -- continue resist it by claiming pedestrians would be harmed.

To win the support of local Council Member Eric Ulrich, DOT has already scaled back plans for left turn bans in the Woodhaven project -- including one at Jamaica Avenue, where more pedestrians were killed between 2009 and 2013 than any other intersection in the city, according to DOT.

While Ulrich is on board now, Queens Community Board 9 remains adamantly against the redesign. Despite the agency's concessions, all but three CB 9 members voted last week to oppose the project. One person went so far as to say that if any fatalities occurred on the corridor after SBS implementation, "Their blood will be on your hands," the Queens Chronicle reported.

A driver killed 13-year-old Jazmine Martin yesterday at this intersection, which get a left-turn and expanded pedestrian space in DOT's Woodhaven SBS plan. Image: DOT
A wider median, expanded pedestrian space, a left-turn and bus lanes are planned for Cross Bay Boulevard and 149th Avenue: DOT [PDF]

At the intersection of Cross Bay Boulevard and 149th Avenue, where Martin was killed, the city intends to square off an irregular intersection, expand a pedestrian median, and ban westbound left turns. It's impossible to say whether those changes would have saved Jazmine Marin's life, but those types of improvements are proven to reduce the risk of traffic deaths.

To DOT's credit, the agency is already redesigning the Jamaica Avenue intersection this fall, much to the chagrin of SBS opponents [PDF]. And it looks like the Woodhaven project remains on track to begin next year, despite the wailing from CB 9. "Woodhaven SBS is a safety project that we are implementing," an agency spokesperson told the Chronicle last week.

Other factors are also dragging out the process of making these major avenues safer. The city's capital construction bureaucracy moves so slowly that full build-out of the Woodhaven project won't be complete until sometime in the 2020s.

What's scary about the influence wielded by intransigent community boards is that they can water down safety projects before they get into that very long construction pipeline. The terrible loss of life on Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards is a reminder that community boards retain this influence even though many of them are in complete denial about what's causing traffic violence -- and how to prevent it.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

We Have the ‘End of Days’ Flooding Pics You Need Right Now

It's bad out there. How bad? Here is a citywide roundup from our staff ... and our friends on social media.

September 29, 2023

Labor Gains: Judge Tosses App Giants’ Suit to Stop Deliverista Minimum Wage

Justice Nicholas Moyne cleared the way for a long-delayed wage hike for workers who brave dangerous roads to bring food directly to New Yorkers.

September 29, 2023

Fed Up Bronxites Tell Mayor To Forget About Bus Ride Invitation After Fordham Road ‘Betrayal’

"I really would think that our mayor would be a little bit more active and speak with us, because he hasn't really made any time with riders. We're not the enemy. We just want better bus service."

September 29, 2023

City Pays $150K to Settle Suit Over Cops Who Harassed Man Who Reported Police Parking Misconduct

Justin Sherwood and his lawyer will pocket $152,000 to settle his federal civil rights suit against the city and several officers who harassed him following his 311 calls.

September 28, 2023
See all posts