2016-02-24 / Front Page

DOT Proposes New Safety Measures For Thomson Avemie

By Liz Goff
City transportation officials announced plans for the reconstruction of a deadly street outside LaGuardia Community College, where a 16-year-old high school student was killed and three others were seriously injured in March 2013.

Department of Transportation (DOT) officials have developed a plan to narrow the northern sidewalk at the intersection of Thomson Avenue between Skillman Avenue and Van Dam Street – a move that will allow crews to widen the south sidewalk. More than 2,000 pedestrians cross from the south sidewalk each day at “peak hours,” DOT officials said.

A four-block stretch of Thomson Avenue serves as home to LaGuardia Community College, the Applied Communications High School, Bard High School, the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center and numerous municipal agencies, DOT officials said.

The plan, part of Mayor Bill deBlasio’s Vision Zero Traffic Safety Initiative, also calls for the addition of four feet to the existing roadway. Four of the highway’s six lanes would be widened by one foot each to accommodate the high volume of traffic.

City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer demanded “immediate” action by DOT to fix the troubled intersection after Applied Communications High School student Tenzin Drukad, 16, was struck and killed on the morning of March 11, 2013, while waiting to cross Thomson Avenue near 30th Street.

Drudak was run down by a minivan when its uninsured driver reached for a carton of spilled milk and lost control of the vehicle. The minivan struck a pole and a tree, then jumped the curb between two sidewalk barriers and slammed into Drudak, who went into cardiac arrest and died a short while later at a local hospital.

Four LaGuardia College students who were also struck by the van survived the accident/

DOT officials said Drudak’s death was the only traffic fatality at the intersection in more than a decade..

Van Bramer pushed for a study of the traffic signals, installation of additional sidewalk barriers and increased enforcement along the Thomson Avenue corridor, and called for a pedestrian bridge at Thomson Avenue and 30th Street.

The Queens lawmaker organized several rallies at the intersection following the deadly accident. Van Bramer also said DOT officials were more concerned about maintaining a steady traffic flow into Manhattan than they were about pedestrian safety at the site.

DOT officials implemented several new safety measures at the site following the fatal crash, including the installation of a pedestrian “plaza” that blocked right turns from Thomson Avenue to Skillman Avenue.

Administrators at LaGuardia Community College joined Van Bramer in his demand for DOT officials to conduct an immediate traffic study of the area. “We will fight, we will rally, we will shame them if we have to,” Van Bramer said.

College president Gail Mellow said she is pleased that DOT has taken action to redesign the intersection. “This is a great beginning that can make Thomson Avenue safer for our more than 50,000 students, as well as for our faculty and staff,” Mellow said.

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