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Queens Chronicle

Boulevard islands frustrate officials

Unwanted ‘safety’ measure still plagues motorists in Flushing

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Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:23 am, Thu Feb 6, 2014.

Those pesky pedestrian islands being installed on College Point Boulevard in Flushing were trashed once again by officials at last week’s Community Board 7 district cabinet meeting, held at the Queens Botanical Garden.

The Queens Chronicle reported in November that since the city began installing the islands last fall, accident rates have soared. Officers at the 109th Precinct noted that accidents had gone up 400 percent there in a one-month period.

Officers reported drivers were unaware of the islands and don’t see them until it’s too late and end up hitting them.

The islands have also been a problem for buses and snowplows to maneuver around.

Unlike the traditional elongated traffic islands, the ones on College Point Boulevard are rectangular and shorter. Although a traffic initiative, the Department of Transportation said the project is being handled by the Department of Design and Construction. DDC spokesman Craig Chin said the “pedestrian refuge islands” project, from 32nd to Fowler avenues, also includes reconstructing that stretch of the boulevard with a resurfaced roadway, pedestrian ramps and upgraded water and sewer mains.

The DDC also installed temporary markings and plastic barrels while the work is being completed and Chin promised in the fall that bollards — an additional safety feature — would be installed on the islands. But some of that work did not happen.

Photographs taken earlier this week show no barrels and only small bollards, one of which is broken in half. Road markings, if there were any, were not detectable.

CB 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman said last Thursday that meetings she scheduled with the contractor didn’t happen because company officials never showed up and that no one from that office or DDC were at Thursday’s session.

“The islands are not all the same size and we’ve got a nightmare on our hands,” Bitterman said.

Although accidents have decreased from November, Inspector Brian Maguire, commanding officer at the 109th Precinct, said cars are still getting wrecked and indicated there is little need for the islands because few people cross the street there.

Bitterman was adamant that something be done to rectify the situation. “Community Board 7 did not want the islands and I want them removed,” she said. “I will write to the mayor. I am not happy.”

Alan Silvestri, a DOT spokesman who was at the meeting, was able to offer a little encouragement. “It’s a difficult situation now, but it will be alleviated when the job is completed,” he said.

“Once it’s paved with asphalt and markings are in, it will be improved,” he added.

Calls to the contractor, Tectonic Engineering, were referred to the DDC.

Contacted last week, Chin said the College Point Boulevard reconstruction project is expected to be completed this spring or earlier, weather permitting.

“Once the weather improves, the contractor will pave the roadway and install permanent pavement markings to complete the job,” he added.

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