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Douglaston eyeing parkway makeover

The city is proposing various changes to a busy intersection along Douglaston Parkway with hopes of making it safer for pedestrians. Photo courtesy city Department of Transportation
Residents of Douglaston continue to keep a close watch on a part of Douglaston Parkway that runs north of Northern Boulevard with hopes to make it safer for pedestrian traffic. Photo courtesy city Department of Transportation
TimesLedger Newspapers

A busy and sometimes problematic intersection along Douglaston Parkway has been on the community’s radar for months but a solution may finally be in the works, the city Department of Transportation said.

In Douglaston, a peculiar intersection has led to confusion between drivers and pedestrians where Douglaston Parkway meets 43rd Avenue and 235th and 240th streets, neighbors said. Inside that tricky intersection, two lone concrete islands have served as the only means of protection for anyone trying to cross the street to visit spots such as the nearby Catharine Turner Richardson Park or PS 98.

Earlier this month, the DOT proposed its solution to the area so that residents, including some particularly at-risk senior citizens in nearby co-ops, no longer have to sprint in order to cross Douglaston Parkway. The plans include white pedestrian pavement markings, revised concrete safety islands and more centralized stops at the intersection.

According to the DOT presentation, the city will expand the existing pedestrian space, add new crosswalks, simplify the existing abundance of stop signs and reroute access to westbound 235th Street via 43rd Avenue.

Community Board 11 member Douglas Montgomery works just up the road from the intersection and said he was glad to see progress at the spot that would reduce the risk of pedestrians being struck. He said he had seen as many as three people hit by passing vehicles in the last year there.

“It’s a very difficult intersection. Something’s got to be done before somebody gets killed there,” Montgomery said. “I think the plan is fantastic.”

But for Eliott Socci, president of the Douglaston Civic Association, the best bet for protecting anyone wanting to cross the busy spot on Douglaston Parkway just before the Long Island Rail Road station would be to keep it simple. Although he said he was glad to see additional crosswalks being added, Socci expressed concern over the necessity of changing drivers’ habits.

“The goal is pedestrian safety, and maybe this will do that,” he said. “But one thing it does not do is make driving through that intersection any easier. If it’s not easier, then it’s not better.”

Mary Griffin lives in The Wellesley Gardens co-ops steps away from the busy intersection and said she had heard several tales of neighbors and residents trying to cross the street, but being struck in the process. She said she was worried for the young children and elderly residents who share her building and hoped the DOT would consider placing traffic lights on the parkway.

“I’m frankly very frightened every time I walk across that street,” she said. “Nobody ever stops, even despite the big stop sign. I’m afraid somebody else is going to be terribly injured.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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