Changes coming to Northern Boulevard 1

Giovianni Ampuero never made it to the corner that now is a memorial to him. But elected officials and the city’s Department of Transportation are working to eliminate the conditions that took the 9-year-old boy’s life two weeks ago.

The city’s Department of Transportation is giving Assemblyman Michael Den Dekker (D-East Elmhurst) thei eight seconds that he has been seeking for many years along Northern Boulevard.

By the end of this week, the DOT is expecting to have all traffic lights at intersections on Northern Boulevard programmed to give pedestrians at intersections eight to 10 seconds between 58th Street and Junction Boulevard.

Den Dekker told the Chronicle on May 11 that DOT representatives made the commitment earlier that day after Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia and agency personnel toured the route with elected officials from along the corridor.

The signal adjustments are the latest response from the city to the April 28 accident that killed 9-year-old Giovanni Ampuero.

Giovanni was crossing with his mother at 70th Street when he was hit by a car driven by Juan Jimemez, 86, of Manhattan as he was making a left-hand turn. The crash remains under investigation by the NYPD, and Jimenez faces three charges.

Giovanni, who loved soccer, was buried on May 4. He is the third child in recent years to be struck and killed on the stretch of Northern that runs through Den Dekker’s district.

Both Giovanni and the driver had green signals when the boy was hit. The lead time adjustment changes that equation somewhat.

“In the short-term, pedestrians will get eight to 10 seconds’ head start when crossing the street,” Den Dekker said. “That gives people time to get halfway across, making it easier for drivers to see them.”

The change was made at Northern and 70th within days of Giovanni’s death. Den Dekker has said he still would like to see vehicular traffic in all directions come to a full stop whenever pedestrians have a green walk signal.

Other officials on the tour included State Sens. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) and Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) and Assemblyman Brian Barnwell (D-Maspeth).

Stavisky, in a telephone conversation, said deaths are not the only problem — even with the city’s emphasis on Vision Zero, she said, Northern Boulevard has far more than its share of accidents with injuries.

“I believe we need speed cameras there,” she said, telling the Chronicle that she will be introducing a bill to allow the expansion of their use.

Stavisky and Den Dekker also welcome long-term plans that include measures such as repainting old, faded crosswalks.

Van Bramer, in an email to the Chronicle on Tuesday, said last week’s trip was an important one.

“We, as a City, must do everything we can to prevent additional loss of life on Northern Boulevard,” he said. “Not one more person should lose their life. Not one more family should have to suffer. We must do better.”

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