One Year After $5M Promise, Downtown Brooklyn Safety Fixes Are Nowhere

mural_promise.jpgThe death of 8-year-old Alexander Toulouse on Saturday has re-focused public attention on the dangerous streets of downtown Brooklyn. Toulouse was killed by a turning postal van at the intersection of Boerum Place and Livingston Street while riding his bike with his father.

The intersection where Alexander died is exceedingly hazardous. CrashStat shows that 28 pedestrians and 11 cyclists were struck there between 1995 and 2005. Last August, at the unveiling of a mural in memory of three children killed by cars (right), the city promised to make good on $5 million in traffic calming improvements for the area, though not at the specific intersection where Saturday's crash occurred. One year later, not a single shovel has gone in the ground.

DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow says that the contract for the improvements was awarded in May by the Department of Design and Construction and work should begin this calendar year. DDC is the city agency charged with building DOT's capital projects. Solomonow attributes the lag to "slow-going through the budgetary process." (Also note that last year's promise followed a 2004 pledge by then-commissioner Iris Weinshall for $4 million in improvements, which were supposed to get built by 2006.)

The glacial pace of progress raises the question: What good are pledges of "not one more death" from DOT if the city agencies that actually build and finance capital improvements -- DDC and the Office of Management and Budget, respectively -- don't sign on as well?

Another question: How deep is NYPD's commitment to traffic safety? Their public information office apparently follows a policy of divulging as little about traffic deaths as possible. When Streetsblog called to see if NYPD possessed any information to buttress witness accounts in the Daily News of the crash, a spokesperson provided nothing, saying that accident reports are not even given to victims' families.

Alexander Toulouse's family released a statement soon after the crash:

Zander was a very popular little boy at his school and the neighborhood where he was known for being polite and very smart. He loved subways and ‘Dancing with the Stars’. He was a joy to his parents who are utterly devastated by their loss.

Photo: Aaron Naparstek