After years of elected officials, community leaders, business owners and residents rallying and pleading, the Department of Transportation and the NYPD announced that the notoriously dangerous Queensboro Bridge exit ramp will be closed a night.
The single lane merges suddenly with Queens Plaza South, resulting in many cars careening off the ramp and into a storefront, often resulting in the death of the driver.
“This upgrade to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is just the latest step we’ve taken to keep the more than 180,000 daily drivers crossing safely on one of the city’s most iconic bridges,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in a written statement.
The lane will be closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, reducing potential for speeding and other unsafe nighttime driving; traffic capacity on the Queens-bound inner and upper roadway lanes remain unchanged.
According to the DOT, the daily closures and reopening of the outer roadway will be managed by NYPD traffic officers/agents already stationed at the bridge to manage the weekday reversal of the two Queens-bound lanes of the upper roadway to accommodate Manhattan-bound traffic.
State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria), who has actively voiced his concern of the dangerous conditions the exit ramp has posed since a DOT redesign, said he was happy that action is being taken by the agency but hopes there will be sufficient modifications made to the outer roadway.
“I applaud the DOT for finally giving this dangerous stretch of road the attention it deserves,” Gianaris said. “Hopefully, the nighttime closure of the Queens-bound outer roadway will provide the time for a proper evaluation of the street design coming off the Queensboro Bridge exit ramp so we can eventually solve this problem once and for all.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) shared similar feelings.
“The closure of the exit ramp on the Queens-bound outer roadway of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge is the first step toward ending the carnage that has claimed too many lives over the last three years,” Van Bramer said. “With this closure and the implementation of a long-term permanent solution we will once and for all make Queensboro Plaza safer for the tens of thousands of commuters that utilize this popular transportation hub every single day.”
The decision to close the exit ramp at night comes almost two weeks after Elisa Toro, an off-duty NYPD police officer, drove off the ramp and was thrown from her car, killing her instantly.
The crashes began after a redesign of Queens Plaza which included bike lanes, widened sidewalks and a park. It is because of those updates that the DOT changed the way cars exited the bridge, forcing them into a sharper merge on Queens Plaza South.
Since 2011, three fatal crashes have occurred, not including several other accidents that resulted in serious injuries.
The nighttime closures went into effect on Dec. 30.
The DOT did not release a statement on whether modifications will be made.