De Blasio Must Fix 111th Street Before Someone Gets Killed

Twice in the past two years, DOT caved to community board pressure against a street redesign, and New Yorkers paid with their lives.

The current design of 111th Street forces Corona residents to run for their lives to get to the biggest park in Queens. Photo: NYC DOT
The current design of 111th Street forces Corona residents to run for their lives to get to the biggest park in Queens. Photo: NYC DOT

In the spring of 2015, DOT proposed a plan for street improvements that involved removing a number of turns from the B36 bus route along Avenue Z and Sheepshead Bay Road, where from 2009 to 2013 traffic crashes had injured dozens of street users and severely injured five pedestrians and two cyclists. DOT shelved the proposal after City Council Member Chaim Deutsch and Brooklyn Community Board 15 objected to it.

That December, a B36 bus driver killed 62-year-old Eleonora Shulkin while making a turn that was slated to be eliminated. DOT went ahead with the plan following Shulkin’s death.

In the spring of 2015, DOT proposed a road diet and other traffic-calming measures for East Tremont Avenue between Williamsbridge Road and Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx, where dozens of pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicle occupants were injured every year. DOT dropped the plan after Bronx Community Board 10, egged on by the Throggs Neck Merchants Association, voted against it. “DOT stated that it would be happy to abide with the CB 10 decision,” the Bronx Times reported.

Bill_de_Blasio_11-2-2013In June of 2016, a hit-and-run driver killed 26-year-old Giovanni Nin as he rode his bike on East Tremont in Schuylerville, within the proposed project area. Mayor de Blasio directed DOT to implement the plan after Nin was killed, rebuffing shameless cranks who blamed Nin for his own death.

DOT has allowed Queens CB 4 to hold up safety improvements for 111th Street in Corona for three years. The plan has widespread support from Corona residents who are forced to risk their lives and the lives of their children, crossing a street designed for highway speeds in order to access Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Again, a project that would benefit thousands of New Yorkers has been hijacked by a small number of opponents. The one throwing his weight around is James Lisa, who lives on 111th Street and chairs the CB 4 transportation committee. Lisa donates generously to Assembly Member Francisco Moya, who successfully got DOT to water down the proposed redesign. Nevertheless, Lisa still won’t support the project.

There’s no excuse to let this process drag out any longer.

It’s springtime. As the weather warms there will be more children, with and without their parents, crossing 111th Street to get to the park. De Blasio cannot allow what happened in Sheepshead Bay and Schuylerville to happen in Corona.

The mayor must direct DOT to fix 111th Street now — before, not after, someone gets killed.