2017-05-10 / Front Page

Announce $17M For Thomson Avenue Safety

By Liz Goff
Mayor Bill deBlasio has announced a $17 million funding package for the redesign of a deadly intersection outside LaGuardia Community College.

De Blasio said he set aside the capital funds under his Vision Zero initiative for an overhaul at Thomson Avenue between Skillman Avenue and Van Dam Street – at the site where a 16-year-old high school student was killed and three others were seriously injured in March 2013.

College administrators 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.

The city installed a series of safety measures at the site following the tragedy, including the installation of countdown signals at pedestrian crosswalks and closing a troubled right-turn ramp at the site.  

DeBlasio told an audience at a recent Town Hall meeting in Long Island City that city officials are aware of the need for increased safety measures at the location. “We know there is a real problem around LaGuardia Community College,” the mayor said. “We know there is more work to be done.”

More than 2,000 pedestrians cross from the north to south sidewalk at the intersection each day at “peak Hours,” DOT officials said. More than 24 pedestrians were injured in traffic accidents at the site in 2016 – a four block stretch of Thomson Avenue that 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 $17 million funding package would be used to install promised safety measures, such as adding four feet to the existing highway. Four of the highway’s six lanes would then be widened by one foot each to accommodate the high volume of pedestrian traffic, officials said.

The changes required capital funding because they call for changes to drainage and other municipal utilities in the area.  DOT officials are in the process of reassessing the original project proposal and expect to present an updated plan for review by Community Board 1 by the end of 2017, an agency spokesperson said.

For more information or updates on this or other Vision Zero projects, or to design or suggest changes under the Vision Zero Initiative go to the Vision Zero Interactive Map at  www.visionzero.com@nyc.gov.

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