Calling the downtown Flushing traffic pilot program successful in reducing both congestion and accidents, Queens Department of Transportation Commissioner Maura McCarthy said last week it will continue with minor tweaks.
McCarthy gave the Community Board 7 district service cabinet members an update at their monthly meeting last Thursday at the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing.
The pilot project began in the summer of 2010 when the DOT implemented new traffic patterns in the downtown area to decrease congestion and improve the safety of motorists and pedestrians.
The two major changes were to outlaw left turns from northbound Union Street onto westbound Northern Boulevard and to prohibit all turns from Main Street onto Roosevelt Avenue.
McCarthy reported that traffic improved at nine of the intersections in the study area during the morning peak hour and seven during the evening peak hour. In addition, travel speeds along eastbound and westbound Northern Boulevard increased by 16 percent and 15 percent in the evening peak hour, respectively, and 34 percent and 37 percent in the Saturday midday peak hour.
She told cabinet members that crashes with injuries in the study area declined 20 percent compared to three years earlier and total injuries decreased 29 percent. Injuries to occupants of vehicles decreased by 55 percent and areawide pedestrian injuries were down 8 percent.
At the Northern-Union intersection, pedestrian injuries were down 18 percent and at the Roosevelt-Main location they were down 29 percent.
McCarthy noted that one safety procedure carried out was to build out the sidewalk at the corners of Union and Northern “to make the crossing shorter for pedestrians.”
She noted that future changes could include more sidewalk buildouts at busy intersections along Main Street.
The Roosevelt-Main intersection is the No. 1 accident site in Queens and the Northern-Union is No. 2.
The worst site is a busy transportation and shopping hub, while the No. 2 location is near Flushing High School and a busy commercial shopping area.