A Chorus of Calls for a Safer Queens Boulevard

A pedestrian dashes across six lanes of Queens Boulevard traffic.
Image Courtesy Dmitry Gudkov

Though Queens County’s 2.2 million residents speak 138 different languages, not one of them needs a translation for “Boulevard of Death.”

One look at the 12-lane arterial street that bears the borough’s name and it’s obvious why Queens Boulevard has earned such a menacing moniker.

It’s fitting too, that in the most diverse county in America, a broad coalition of community groups, faith-based organizations, small businesses, elected officials and neighborhood activists are banding together to see if Queens Boulevard can’t receive the kind of Complete Street overhaul that has saved lives, shortened commute times and boosted local economies on other major thoroughfares around the city.

“This is our neighborhood. It is our responsibility to make it safer and greater today than it was yesterday,” said A. Redd Sevilla, the Executive Director of New Life Fellowship Community Development Corporation, which is one of more than 100 local organizations that has signed on to Transportation Alternatives’ Zero on Queens Boulevard Campaign.

“Reinvestment is part of the mission of New Life CDC,” Sevilla added. “Reinvestment is about developing leaders who create and shape a more beautiful local neighborhood instead of moving out to find one. The success of the Zero on Queens Boulevard Campaign hinges on local stakeholders who believe in this type of reinvestment. That is why New Life CDC is behind this effort.”

Also backing the push for a safer Queens Boulevard is City Council Member Karen Koslowitz. She has taken the lead on pursuing Complete Street redesign on Queens Boulevard, submitting a formal request to DOT Commissioner Trottenburg and Queens DOT Commissioner Hall for a meeting focusing on the community’s demand for a feasibility study. After gathering support and signatures from all of the Council Members whose districts are located along the Boulevard, Koslowitz is ushering into being a new, supportive group of key decision-makers in Queens.

Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Activist Committee is also deeply involved in the effort. The campaign has been a longstanding priority for T.A.’s committed activists. Since 2013, they’ve collected thousands of petition signatures and organized the participation of hundreds of local businesses. On April 9, members of the Activist Committee will present to Queens Community Board 6 in Kew Gardens.

“I think they’re positioned to make a powerful pitch to the community as they request a resolution for a Complete Street feasibility study of Queens Boulevard,” said Celia Castellan, T.A.’s Campaigns and Organizing Assistant. “This is a grassroots effort that has found real and substantial support up and down one of the most complicated, crowded and contested streets in New York City.”