Tag Archives: Miguel Torres

New federal legislation to focus funds on areas with increased pedestrian accidents


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Newly proposed legislation will require states to focus federal resources in areas where there have been an increase in pedestrian fatalities or injuries, one politician said.

U.S Rep. Joseph Crowley created the Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014 to help prevent another traffic fatality from occurring on New York City streets.

Crowley made the announcement on the corner where 11-year-old Miguel Torres was fatally struck in December of 2012 as he was crossing Northern Boulevard to get to school. Last October 3-year-old Olvin Jahir Figueroa was killed crossing Northern Boulevard near Junction Boulevard with his mom. In December 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed crossing the busy street on the way to his Woodside school.

“The recent string in traffic related deaths in and around Queens demands our immediate attention to find solutions,” Crowley said. “We need to ensure the federal highway safety funds at their disposal are put toward achieving our goal of reducing pedestrian fatalities to zero.”

States are currently required to submit a Strategic Highway Safety Plan to the Federal Highway Administration for them to receive federal highway safety funds. This state-wide plan is used by state transportation departments to look at safety needs and decide where to make investments.

The Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014 will require the safety plan to include statistics on pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and each state must show how it expects to address any increases at both state and county levels.

“Pedestrian safety is a vitally important issue for my district and citywide,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, who has worked with the Department of Transportation to implement neighborhood slow zones and other safety improvements. “However, more can always be done and this legislation would give some much needed funding to this tragic problem.”

The new legislation is also expected to update the federal handbook, which local and state transportation departments use when gathering highway safety data, in order to include items that will promote safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

“For too long, the people of New York City have seen repeated injuries in areas that have been proven to be dangerous and high risk,” said Cristina Furlong of the group Make Queens Safer. “With the passing of this legislation, New York will be able to provide the resources necessary to transform our dangerous streets.”

 

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Jackson Heights, Corona community marches for safer streets after traffic deaths


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

It was the final straw, and now the Jackson Heights and Corona communities are saying no more.

Family members of traffic accident victims, local elected officials and community members gathered Tuesday night to set off the inaugural action known as “Three Children Too Many.”

The group marched down Northern Boulevard, then 82nd Street, stopping to make statements about traffic control and give performances along the way. They then gathered on 79th Street and 37th Avenue to rally and remember young local lives that were cut short.

“You cope with this kind of thing and you feel terrible, sad, angry, but then there’s a tipping point,” said Laura Newman, one of the organizers of the march and resident of Jackson Heights. “We actually have to make it stop.”

Just a month before three-year-old Olvin Jahir Figueroa was fatally struck by an alleged drunk driver, Jackson Heights resident Luis Bravo, 19, lost his life in a hit-and-run in Woodside. In December of last year, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was killed as he tried to cross the street heading to school on Northern Boulevard.

In April Councilmember Daniel Dromm led the push to bring more slow zones to Jackson Heights, focusing on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.

“Three Children Too Many” calls on mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to choose a police commissioner who will make sure law enforcement for vehicular crimes is strongly enforced and demands more traffic calming zones, continued traffic safety education for local children, and action facilitators to lead the community towards greater safety.

“Safety is (Department of Transportation) DOT’s top priority and the agency participated in [Tuesday’s] event to highlight our shared goal of making streets safer for everyone using them,” said DOT spokesperson Nicole Garcia. “We also have been in touch with the local community, including the march’s organizers and elected officials to get feedback, share education materials and discuss ways to enhance safety at this intersection and the surrounding area.”

The agency is also looking at the signal timing at Northern and Junction Boulevards to determine if adjustments can be made, said Garcia.

Michelle L. Kaucic, community coordinator of the DOT’s Safety Education and Outreach, said the community needs to continue advocating for change and must also spread the word of not drinking and driving. The community and DOT need to work together to make the streets safe as possible, said Kaucic.

At the end of the march, participants held a moment of silence and a candlelight vigil honoring Olvin, Luis, Miguel and other victims, as family members spoke.

“Safe streets are not a luxury, it’s what we deserve,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who lost two of her best friends 20 years ago to a fatal traffic accident involving a drunk driver. “After losing several of our mothers, fathers, children and friends to fatal traffic collisions, we simply cannot tolerate to lose one more.”

 

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Push for slow zones in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo By Angy Altamirano

In December, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was struck and killed as he tried to cross the street on Northern Boulevard.

Now, leaders in Jackson Heights are calling for a slow zone to prevent more deaths.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm is leading the push that would lower the speed limit in the neighborhood from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour on specific streets to stop drivers who speed through.

Last year, the councilmember applied to have a slow zone between 74th Street and 86th Street, from 37th Avenue up to Northern Boulevard. The application was denied by the Department of Transportation (DOT), as Northern Boulevard cannot be part of the slow zone because it is considered a major arterial traffic way, said Dromm.

But now Dromm hopes to reapply and focus on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.

“There is a very big problem in Jackson Heights on those side streets,” said Dromm. “We have to change the mentality of drivers that when they are coming into such a congested area, you aren’t going to get in and out fast. You need to slow down, calm down and take it easy.”

About two weeks ago, on the corner of 81st Street and 35th Avenue, a pedestrian was struck in a hit-and-run accident when a car was making a left turn. Another pedestrian was hit on 82nd Street and Northern Boulevard and is in critical condition.

Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, said he is working with Dromm to bring the slow zone to the neighborhood.

“We need it for two reasons, one is the number of senior citizens in the neighborhood and the other reason is there are a large number of schools in the area,” Westley said.

A slow zone in East Elmhurst, on 25th Avenue from 69th to 83rd Street, was approved by the DOT and is nearly completed.

“Northern Boulevard needs to be a safe environment considering just how many schools sit right along it throughout Jackson Heights and into Corona,” said Serhan Ayhan, 26, a Jackson Heights resident. “We shouldn’t be playing a game of chicken waiting until a student is hurt while crossing the street to implement safer policies.”

Along with the slow zones, Dromm also hopes to implement other traffic measures including bike racks and extended curbs to get drivers to slow down. He is also working with the NYPD for additional enforcement on the north and south ends of Northern Boulevard to decrease fatalities and hit-and-runs.

The DOT did not respond as of press time.

 

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| brennison@queenscourier.com


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