Spring 2003, p.5

Reclaiming the Streets
Queens Boulevard Epicenter of Borough Transportation Crisis

It may no longer be the "Boulevard of Death," but Queens Boulevard is still a giant nightmare for pedestrians. Urbitran, the consultant running the Department of Transportation's Queens Boulevard Safety Study, has come up with a menu of pragmatic improvements, which it presented to the public in April. Especially promising are proposals to pedestrianize the streets crossing under the elevated stations of the #7 train. Crowds of pedestrians walk in the streets at this spot during rush hour. Urbitran is also looking at eliminating some of the highway-like entrances connecting the inner lanes of the boulevard to adjacent "service roads." (The fact that the boulevard has "service roads," which is a feature of highways, speaks volumes about the bad design of Queens Boulevard.)

But Urbitran and the DOT engineers who seek to improve the boulevard face a huge obstacle: Queens is bursting at the seams. Its population grew 14% in the last decade, and almost ten-fold since Queens Boulevard was built. The 2.2 million people in Queens are jammed together, 20,000 people per square mile. Subways and buses are overwhelmed, and Queens Boulevard and the surrounding street network were never intended to carry current or predicted amounts of traffic. The borough is in a transportation crisis and Queens Boulevard is its epicenter.

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