Leaders want state to improve Woodhaven Blvd. safety

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State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and state Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven) joined the AARP last week at a Woodhaven Boulevard intersection to highlight the need to pass legislation the two lawmakers co-sponsored that would make the city’s streets safer for all modes of travel.

“Nobody should have to be an Olympic athlete to cross Woodhaven Boulevard,” Addabbo said, noting pedestrians have to cross 10 lanes of traffic in about 30 seconds in order to get to the other side of the thoroughfare safely. “We’re here to raise awareness for the need of pedestrian safety.”

The senator said the state ranks third in the country in terms of pedestrian fatalities for seniors over 65.

Addabbo said the Complete Streets bill he co-sponsored, which Miller also co-sponsored in the Assembly, would require the city to look at a variety of factors when it conducts roadway improvements, including whether there are senior centers or schools nearby.

Addabbo and Miller chose the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and 89th Avenue to hold the news conference because the Forest Park Senior Center and PS 60 are adjacent to the corner.

“Seniors should not have to be in top-notch condition to cross Woodhaven Boulevard,” the senator said.

Donna Caltabiano, executive director of the Forest Park Senior Center, said the center’s seniors are concerned about walking across the boulevard.

“Safety has always been an important issue in Woodhaven,” she said. “This intersection is a very difficult intersection for my senior citizens to cross.”

Addabbo suggested increasing the widths of the boulevard’s medians, which are too narrow for wheelchairs, and adjusting the timing of traffic lights to increase pedestrian safety.

“The roads belong to everyone,” Miller said. “We have to make sure that we can cross streets in a timely fashion.”

The assemblyman said he asked for additional traffic studies to be conducted in his district, including Woodhaven Boulevard, Myrtle Avenue and Cooper Avenue.

“The bill itself, Complete Streets, is a phenomenal bill,” he said.

Addabbo said the federal regulations governing roads do not mesh well with the city’s streets.

“This is not Oklahoma, this is not Ohio, this is not Kansas,” he said. “We don’t have people with tractors, we have people with walkers, we have people with strollers.”

Will Stoner of AARP said the organization held its Complete Streets Week last week that surveyed 500 intersections for pedestrian safety in the city.

“Too often our roadways are built with cars moving as fast as possible without regard for our pedestrians,” he said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:48 pm, October 10, 2011
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