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Assembly OKs bill to name Clearview bridge

The anonymous, graffiti-strewn Clearview Expressway pedestrian bridge where a Bayside boy was killed last year while riding his bike is about to get a new identity since the state Assembly passed a bill last week to name the overpass in his honor.

Christopher Scott was hit and killed by a car in August 2000 when he rode his bicycle across the pedestrian bridge at 46th Avenue and entered the Clearview Expressway service road, where there was no curb or buffer from the street. In July 1994 John Shim, 10, was killed in the same spot while riding his bike.

“Christopher’s Crossing” came one step closer to becoming a reality last week when the state Assembly joined the Senate in approving the bill designating the 46th Avenue pedestrian bridge in honor of 11-year-old Christopher. The bill was sponsored by state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose).

Christopher’s grandmother, Loretta Napier, has been a leading activist in the fight to make the overpass safer and to name it in memory of her grandson.

“There’s no doubt about it — I’m ecstatic,” she said of the Legislature’s approval of the name “Christopher’s Crossing.” “This will be a constant reminder for children to be careful. That overpass could be a threat again.”

Under the law Gov. George Pataki has 10 days to sign the bill, but Carrozza spokeswoman Mary Ann Maltese said drawn-out budget negotiations could delay the signing.

Padavan said “even at a young age Christopher Scott had quite an impact on our community. Renaming this bridge, which is used by pedestrians, cyclists and children like Christopher, is an appropriate way to honor his memory.”

The Bayside boy’s death has become a lightning rod for the community, where a push to improve safety at the pedestrian bridge has resulted in the city Department of Transportation making several changes at the site, including a ban on bike riding.

While Napier has continued to push the city DOT to add a stop sign or traffic light on the service road near the pedestrian bridge, two traffic studies by the department show there was not enough traffic in the area to meet the request.

A spokesman for the city DOT said Monday the results of a second traffic study conducted in late April of the service road near the pedestrian bridge reached the same conclusion as the 2000 traffic study: no additional measures to control traffic were warranted because relatively few motorists use the road.

Members of Community Board 11 in Bayside also voted to support naming the pedestrian bridge “Christopher’s Crossing” as a way to honor the dead boy and remind other children of the fatal accidents there.

The Bayside Little League formed its own memorial to Christopher by naming its Most Valuable Player award for the former all-star pitcher. The trophy was presented on June 16.

The Bayside Kiwanis club has also prepared a memorial plaque to both Christopher and John Shim, but Napier said placement of the plaque on the overpass must be approved by the state Department of Transportation, which oversees the bridge.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, which oversees the pedestrian bridge, said its approval for posting the Kiwanis plaque was still pending.

“Our big reason not to do it was safety,” spokeswoman Heather Sporn said. “We felt it was not an appropriate site for a memorial.”

The Kiwanis decision to honor both Christopher Scott and John Shim with the plaque eliminated some fears in the community that naming the bridge “Christopher’s Crossing” would overshadow John Shim’s death.

But Sporn said the agency was not aware that the Kiwanis plaque was dedicated to both boys killed at the site and said she was not sure if it would change the DOT’s decision on the matter.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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