BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
City transportation officials have decided to close the dangerous outer-lane of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, starting Monday night, following the death of an off-duty cop.
The nightly closure of the lane, from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m., follows a review of existing safety measures, traffic volumes and travel speeds.
According to the Dept. of Transportation, this would reduce the potential for speeding and other unsafe nighttime driving. All other traffic on the Queens-bound inner and upper roadway lanes remain unchanged.
“This upgrade to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is just the latest step we’ve taken to keep the more than 180,000 daily drivers crossing safely on one of the City’s most iconic bridges,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) recently stood with community leaders to demand a comprehensive solution from the DOT in the wake of a handful of fatal crashes, including one that took the life of an off-duty cop, Elisa Toro, 36, who was also a mother of two children, during the early hours of Dec. 10.
Although the DOT did previously install additional signage and barriers to the exit ramp on the bridge, Van Bramer and Gianaris sent a letter to the DOT stating, “We believe nothing short of a complete redesign of the exit ramp will fully address this problem.”
Now with the closure of the curvy exit ramp, Van Bramer said, it is “the first step toward ending the carnage that has claimed too many lives over the last three years.”
“With this closure and the implementation of a long-term permanent solution, we will once and for all make Queensboro Plaza safer for the tens of thousands of commuters that utilize this popular transportation hub every single day,” he said.
Gianaris said he applauds the DOT for finally giving this dangerous stretch of road the attention it deserves.
“Hopefully, the nighttime closure of the Queens-bound outer roadway will provide the time for a proper evaluation of the street design coming off the Queensboro Bridge exit ramp so we can eventually solve this problem once and for all,” he said.
The daily closure and reopening of the outer roadway will be managed by traffic officers and agents already stationed at the bridge to manage the weekday reversal of the two Queens-bound lanes of the upper roadway to accommodate Manhattan-bound traffic.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.