March 9, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
The city’s Dept. of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez visited the intersection of Newtown Road and 45th Street where a 7-year-old girl was fatally struck last month and announced that his agency will speed up the process of installing safety measures there.
Rodriguez met with Council Members Julie Won and Tiffany Cabán, state Senator Michael Gianaris, as well as Assembly Members Jessica Gonzalez Rojas and Zohran Mamdani on Wednesday, March 8, to survey the intersection where Dolma Naadhun was hit by an SUV.
Naadhun was crossing the intersection with her mother and sister just before 6 p.m. when a 2021 Ford Explorer — driven by a 46-year-old woman — allegedly blew a stop sign and collided with her. The incident has led the lawmakers, residents, and Naddhun’s family, to call on the DOT to put down new traffic safety systems at the intersection, including traffic lights. Naadhun’s father also met with Rodriguez at the intersection Wednesday.
Rodriguez examined some of the improvements the DOT has already made to the intersection since Naadhun’s death, including the repainting of crosswalk markings and the “no-standing anytime” sign that has been erected. A no-standing anytime sign means vehicles cannot wait or stop to load/unload packages or merchandise at the curbside. Vehicles may stop to expeditiously drop off or pick up passengers.
The DOT is also undertaking a control study of the location to determine what other changes need to be made to make it safer.
Rodriguez, according to Won, committed to expediting the completion of the control study and to accelerate the implementation of daylighting measures like painted curb extensions and plastic flex posts.
However, Won re-iterated her calls for traffic lights at the location, noting that drivers are constantly blowing stop signs there.
“I will continue advocating for Dolma’s family’s demand for a traffic light, alongside our city and state elected officials,” Won said.
“When we met with the Commissioner… we witnessed several drivers failing to fully stop at the stop signs.”
Won said the electeds approved of the safety measures already put down, but said it is not enough to keep residents safe. An online petition launched by the family advocating for traffic lights has so far generated more than 31,000 signatures.
“With two schools and a playground near this intersection, DOT must install this traffic signal to prevent further traffic violence on Newtown Road,” Won said. “We look forward to hearing from DOT about the final outcome of their study and what additional improvements they plan to roll out to keep our children safe.”
Gianaris also called for traffic lights to be installed.
“We brought DOT leadership to Astoria after the tragic death of Dolma Naadhum to push plans for traffic lights on Newtown Road,” Gianaris tweeted. “We must not continue to allow our children to die on our streets in preventable ways.”