DOT to Expedite Hylan ‘Road Diet’ After Fatal Weekend Crash on Staten Island
In the wake of a deadly crash on Sunday, the Department of Transportation announced on Monday that it would move forward expeditiously with its plan to narrow the speediest portion of Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island from four rapid lanes to two — a plan that has no support from local electeds, but one which has proven to save lives and reduce crashes.
The announcement by Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez at Hylan Boulevard and Richard Avenue came less than 17 hours after a speeding driver killed three people there — and intersection that is just to the north of the DOT street improvement project area [PDF]. The DOT may eventually expand the original plan on Hylan between Satterlee Street and Page Avenue to include the crash site.
“Hylan has been dangerous for far too long,” he said, referring to the death on Hylan of the grandmother of DOT Staten Island Borough Commissioner Roseann Caruana in the 1950s as well as the current crash statistics. “It has one of the highest crash rates of any street in New York City, so I’m proud to announce that this safety project will move forward in the next couple of weeks.”
“This is something that is happening every day. It’s an epidemic that is hitting us so hard, especially related to speeding,” Rodriguez added. “This was a truly gruesome scene that should be a reminder that speeding and reckless driving have life altering implications. … There is far too much reckless driving.”
Rodriguez pointed out that pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are lower this year than in previous years, but deaths of drivers and their passengers are up, mostly due to speeding. He said the numbers showed why it is so important to move ahead with the Hylan project, which as of last month had been awaiting more community feedback.
Rodriguez’s words will likely only enrage local electeds, who have opposed all of DOT’s efforts — such as speed cameras and road diets — to rein in speeders along the southern stretch of Hylan Boulevard. Last month, Council Member Joe Borelli told Streetsblog that “DOT central staffers who couldn’t pick Tottenville Pool out on a map” were only trying to “inconvenience” drivers.
He dismissed the road diet as “the same plan that resurfaces every few years like a World Cup of crap ideas.” (Borelli declined to comment for this story.)
Despite the local saber-rattling, the DOT’s plan for the southern end of Hylan comes from one of the most-thumbed pages of the agency’s safety playbook. Reducing the number of travel lanes — and adding a left-turn bay at intersections — helps calm traffic, reducing crashes, the agency has long maintained.
As evidence, the DOT has provided Borelli and other Staten Islanders with the double-digit reductions in crashes with injuries on roadways with previous road diets:
- Macombs Road in the Bronx (crashes with injuries dropped 44 percent).
- Gerritsen Avenue in Brooklyn (crashes with injuries dropped 40 percent).
- Allerton Avenue in the Bronx (crashes with injuries dropped 28 percent).
- West Sixth Street in Brooklyn (crashes with injuries dropped 24 percent).
- Randall Avenue in the Bronx (crashes with injuries dropped 22 percent).
- Southern Boulevard in the Bronx (crashes with injuries dropped 20 percent).
- Empire Boulevard in Brooklyn (crashes with injuries dropped 15 percent).
It’s not as if Hylan Boulevard is as unsafe as those roadways were before being redesigns, but Hylan is a Staten Island outlier. According to DOT, there are 7.5 fatal or serious injury crashes per mile on Hylan between Satterlee Street and Page Avenue, compared to a “KSI” rate of just 0.8 for all of the Rock and 2.9 for all of New York City.
And speeding is particularly dangerous to cyclists, who make up only 1 percent of the vehicle traffic on Hylan, but 12 percent of the injuries, according to DOT.
Sunday’s crash did not injure anyone outside of the Ford Mustang that struck a GMC Yukon at around 8:50 p.m. Cops say that the 16-year-old driver of the Mustang, whose name was not released, was traveling northbound on Hylan “at an unsafe speed” when he struck the massive Yukon as it started making a left turn onto Richard Avenue.
After the collision, the Mustang struck a tree and split into two pieces, ejecting the rear seat passengers, Jesie Gil, 15, and Ashley Rodriguez, 15, both of whom died at the scene.
The front of the car continued along Hylan until hitting a tree and a telephone pole. Front passenger Fernanda Gil, 16, died later at Staten Island University Hospital. The driver remains in critical condition at the same medical facility.
The GMC driver, who will be charged with driving with a suspended license, cops said, and four passengers all sustained minor injuries. It is unclear why the 16-year-old driver of the Mustang was not also charged given that drivers need to be at least 17 to legally drive in New York City.
At the crash site on Monday, Rodriguez offered his prayers and condolences for the victims and their families.
The announcement also comes three weeks before city speed cameras begin operating 24-7. According to a new DOT report, nearly 28 percent of crashes occur between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., when cameras are currently turned off by state law.
A city speed camera on Hylan Boulevard at Chelsea Street issued 2,246 speeding violations in 2021, when it was only allowed to issue tickets between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on weekdays. Even with those limitations, the camera issued roughly nine tickets per half-day.
For the closing shift. For all New Yorkers.
— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) July 11, 2022