Ever since the city started installing traffic islands on College Point Boulevard in Flushing a couple of months ago, accident rates have gone up significantly.
Officers at the 109th Precinct report numerous phone complaints from drivers about the islands because they don’t see them until it’s too late and end up hitting them. Gene Kelty, chairman of Community Board 7, says the design makes no sense, causing a problem where there wasn’t one before. Crashes are up fourfold.
Although a traffic initiative, the Department of Transportation said the project was in the hands of the Department of Design and Construction. DDC spokesman Craig Chin indicated the “pedestrian refuge islands” project, from 32nd to Fowler avenues, also includes reconstructing that stretch of College Point Boulevard with a resurfaced roadway, pedestrian ramps and upgraded water and sewer mains.
“We have installed temporary markings and plastic barrels along the roadway while this work is being completed,” Chin said. “This week, bollards will be installed on the pedestrian refuge islands. We will install permanent markings once we complete the roadway resurfacing, which should be completed in the spring.”
Unlike the traditional elongated traffic island, the ones being constructed on College Point Boulevard are rectangular and shorter. Many of the orange plastic barrels set down to warn drivers are badly dented from being hit.
Officers in the highway safety office at the 109th Precinct indicated that there is no specific data for the boulevard, but that year-to-date accidents are up 3 percent. CB 7, however, was informed by police sources that accidents on the boulevard where the islands have been installed have increased by 400 percent in a one-month period. A police source confirmed that figure for the Chronicle.
Kelty noted that there are marks all over the intersections where cars have hit the islands. “I still blame DOT because they signed off on the project,” he added. “They are just trying to pass the buck to DDC.”
Also concerned about the situation is the Department of Sanitation. Ignazio Terranova of the DOS said it will be more difficult in the winter for snowplows to maneuver around the islands. “It’s a lot harder to see them with snow,” Terranova said.