2012-05-09 / Features

Fourth Car Crashes Off Troubled Bridge Exit Ramp

BY LIZ GOFF

This time it wasn’t a Volkswagen.

Another car sped off the troubled exit ramp on the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City on May 1, careening across three lanes of traffic, slamming into scaffolding in front of a row of shops on Queens Plaza South and nearly striking a pedestrian before it came to a stop.

The car, a taxi exiting the bridge at 4:52 p.m., nearly struck deli worker Preet Singh, 25, who was standing outside the shops.

“I was just standing there and I heard a loud noise,” Singh said. “I didn’t know what it was or where the noise was coming from, but I just ran.”

Eyewitnesses said Singh made it out of the way just in time. “He just got out of there before the car came flying off the bridge,” a local worker said. “I saw it but I can’t believe what I saw.”

Firefighters worked for more than 30 minutes to extract the taxi from the scaffolding, eyewitnesses said. Singh was not injured and the cabbie refused medical treatment for minor cuts and bruises he suffered in the crash, fire officials said.

The exit ramp was the site of two fatal and one near fatal crash in early 2011, involving two Volkswagen Rabbits and a Volkswagen Jetta.

As reported in the March 25 issue of the Queens Gazette, two shop owners have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the city, two construction firms and the drivers of the three speeding cars that slammed into their storefronts early last year.

Scott Agulnick, attorney for the owners of Espinal Caribbean Restaurant II and Villa De Beaute Hair Salon, filed the lawsuit in Queens Supreme Court on March 30, seeking compensation from the city Department of Transportation (DOT), the city Economic Development Corporation (EDC), construction companies Liro Engineers, of Syosset, L.I., Triumph Construction Corporation, of The Bronx, the three motorists and the estate of a passenger who was killed in the third crash.

The lawsuit charges the destruction of the two shops and business losses suffered by the owners were caused by “negligently planned and/or designed traffic patterns… leading to the location of the incident which constitutes a hazardous and/or dangerous condition”.

The first crash occurred at about 4:30 a.m. on Mar. 28, 2011 when driver Grant Riddell lost control of his 2007 Volkswagen Rabbit while exiting the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge at an off-ramp near Crescent Street and Queens Plaza South.

The Volkswagen slammed into the two storefronts and struck pedestrian Anthony Buscemi, who was on his way to work. Buscemi was pinned beneath the wreckage and died a short while later.

Riddell, who is also known as DJ Kiwi, was charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and operating a vehicle without a license. in the area should not be perpetually threatened by projectile vehicles coming off the bridge.”

Gianaris, along with Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, Assemblymember Cathy Nolan and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, sent a letter to DOT following last year’s accidents, requesting safety improvements and traffic pattern redesigns along this dangerous portion of Queens Plaza. In response to the officials’ requests, DOT increased traffic signs and erected barricades in the area, but it is clear that more must be done to ensure safety.

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