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DOT to install traffic calming measures at Astoria intersection where 7-year-old was killed

The intersection of Newtown Road and 45th Street in Astoria on Thursday, March 2, 2023, where 7-year-old Dolma Naadhun was fatally struck by an SUV driver. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

March 7, 2023 By Michael Dorgan

The city’s Dept. of Transportation (DOT) says it will install traffic calming measures at the Astoria intersection where a girl was fatally struck by an SUV last month — although it is unclear if these will include traffic lights at this time.

The agency, in a letter to Queens lawmakers, said it will put down painted curb extensions and other safety measures at the intersection of Newtown Road and 45th Street in order to improve visibility for both motorists and pedestrians. Curb extensions typically widen sidewalks, increase the walking distance of pedestrian crossings, and stop cars from parking near intersections.

The DOT said it will make the changes following the death of Dolma Naadhun, who was fatally struck by the driver of an SUV at the intersection on Feb. 17.

The proposed changes were outlined in a Feb. 28 DOT letter to City Council members Julie Won, Tiffany Cabán and Selvena Brooks-Powers, who had called on the agency to urgently make the intersection safer by installing traffic lights and making the sidewalk wider, among other proposals. The three lawmakers had penned a letter to the DOT on Feb. 20 — three days after the incident — outlining their demands.

The DOT wrote that it plans to “daylight” the intersection with painted curb extensions when the weather improves. Daylighting is a process of removing any visual barriers within a minimum of 10 feet of a crosswalk or intersection in order to increase the visibility of both pedestrians and motorists.

The agency also wrote that it will put down vertical elements like plastic flex posts, as part of the daylighting process.

The DOT says it has already made some improvements to the intersection.

For instance, the crosswalk marking was refurbished two weeks ago with new paint while a “No-Standing Anytime” sign has also 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 Queens Post/Astoria Post visited the intersection last week, and despite the new markings, a vehicle could be seen parked on a crossing at the intersection. A mural for Naadhun was also still in place on the corner where she died.

A car parked on the crosswalk of Newtown Road and 45th Street in Astoria on Thursday, March 2, 2023 (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

The intersection of Newtown Road and 45th Street in Astoria on Thursday, March 2, 2023 (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Additionally, the DOT is also undertaking a control study of the location to determine what other changes need to be made to make it safer.

“These may include additional signage, markings, and other measures, which, if feasible, will be implemented as quickly as possible,” the DOT letter reads.

“[The study] will take into consideration several factors when determining whether existing conditions meet national traffic safety engineering standards for traffic controls, including pedestrian and traffic volumes, crash data, roadway geometry, vehicle speeds and signal spacing.”

The DOT, in its letter, noted that the intersection “is not one with a high crash history.”

The agency told the Queens Post/Astoria Post that five injuries were recorded at the intersection before the fatal crash since 2018.

“The DOT’s priority is always safety on New York City streets, especially for seniors and school children who are our most vulnerable pedestrians,” the letter reads.

“As we do with all crashes that result in serious outcomes, we deployed our emergency response team to the site of the crash, and we are working closely with our partners at the NYPD for crash details.”

Those details revealed that the driver of the vehicle — a 46-year-old woman with a learner’s permit — blew a stop sign and was operating the vehicle without a licensed adult present in the vehicle, according to the DOT.

The driver also had the legal amount of alcohol in her system when tested after the crash, the DOT said. No arrests have been made in relation to the incident.

A memorial for 7-year-old Dolma Naadhun at the corner of Newtown Road and 45th Street in Astoria on Thursday, March 2, 2023 (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

The Feb. 28 DOT letter did not mention the possibility of installing traffic lights at the intersection, despite the calls from the three lawmakers.

At a vigil for Naadhun on Thursday, March 2, her family has also demanded traffic signals be erected at the intersection. Her brother has also launched an online petition advocating for traffic lights. The petition has so far generated more than 31,000 signatures.

After receiving the DOT’s Feb. 28 letter, Won reaffirmed her call for the traffic lights and said that more than 200 residents had contacted her office wanting them.

“Installing a traffic signal at Newtown Road and 45th Street means safer streets for our children and neighbors who cross this intersection every single day,” Won said in a statement to the Queens Post/Astoria Post.

“We will not take no for an answer from DOT, and I will continue fighting alongside our city and state elected officials so that no more of our neighbors’ lives are lost.”

“One death on our streets is too many. We cannot wait for another death to make Newtown Road safer for our neighbors.”

The intersection of Newtown Road and 45th Street in Astoria on Thursday, March 2, 2023 (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

The intersection of Newtown Road and 45th Street in Astoria on Thursday, March 2, 2023 (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Won_Brooks-Powers_Caban _Sa… by Queens Post

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