Today’s news:

Brooklyn man, 52, killed crossing Queens Blvd.

A Brooklyn man died Saturday night after being struck by a medallion taxi while crossing Queens Boulevard against the light, about 130 feet away from the 57th Avenue crosswalk in Elmhurst, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation said.

Maurice Bratec, 52, of 2218 Atlantic Ave. was rushed to St. John's Hospital after being hit at approximately 11:12 p.m. where he was pronounced dead shortly before midnight, said police.

He was the second pedestrian to die crossing Queens Boulevard this year and the 80th pedestrian to die on the boulevard since 1993.

No summonses or arrests were made, said police.

"This obviously wasn't an accident where both people were in the right," said Tom Cocola, a spokesman for the DOT. "The gentleman wasn't quite at the crosswalk, and he was not crossing at the right time... I think it's a reminder that pedestrians need to use extreme caution when crossing Queens Boulevard."

The DOT began implementing changes in 2001 to make Queens Boulevard, also known as the "Boulevard of Death," safer. Along a stretch of approximately 4.5 miles in Forest Hills, more than 400 signs were put up warning pedestrians to be alert while crossing the road, red lights were lengthened to give pedestrians more time to cross, a four-foot fence was put up on medians to prevent jaywalking, and parking meters were installed along the service roads in both directions along the boulevard.

In addition, the speed limit along the entire boulevard was reduced to a uniform 30 mph.      

The DOT is now looking into installing parking meters and putting up signs and pedestrian fencing at the extremities of the boulevard, including the location where Bratec was struck.

"Initially we looked at a four-to-five-mile stretch in Forest Hills," said Laura Brick, a spokeswoman for the DOT. "Now that that's proven to be working out, we're looking at the extremities, from the Queensborough Bridge to 50th Avenue, and from the 80s to Union Turnpike."

At the request of Borough President Helen Marshall, the DOT is also looking into installing more mid-block crossings, which allows people to cross safely in the middle of the block instead of having to walk to a corner intersection, where cars frequently turn into the crosswalk.

According to Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Marshall, there are currently four mid-block crossings on Queens Boulevard, located at 68th Avenue, 69th Avenue, 70th Avenue and across from Borough Hall, near Union Turnpike.

Andrews said the borough president thought mid-block crossings were a good idea because it saved people some walking, and the one across the street from Borough Hall was very popular.

"People didn't want to walk to Union Turnpike - they would see the deli right across the street, and think 'I'll just run across,'" said Andrews. "We have a light now. It saves a lot of walking and it's mid-block."

Andrews emphasized that the borough president was asking the DOT to look into installing lights at mid-block, not suggesting that people cross mid-block without a light.

"It's not any one thing that's going to make Queens Boulevard safer," said Andrews. "The fact is when you step off the curb, you have to be fully cognizant that you're crossing a very dangerous boulevard. This is a very wide street that runs through residential neighborhoods."

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at, or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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