On March 11, Tenzin Drudak, 16, was on the sidewalk on Thomson Avenue across from Applied Communications High School, where he went to school, when the driver of a maroon Dodge Caravan careened across three lanes of oncoming traffic, between metal barriers, onto the sidewalk, injuring four and killing Drudak.
The driver, Mohamed Keita, 36, was reportedly distracted by spilt milk as he was speeding through the intersection. Police issued Keita a summons for driving without insurance, but did not file charges.
In the wake of Drudak’s death, Queens Community Board 2, LaGuardia Community College, and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer called on DOT to make changes to the intersection, which sees lots of foot traffic from nearby schools as well as heavy vehicle congestion caused by drivers using surface streets to and from the toll-free Queensboro Bridge.
In April, DOT adjusted signage and traffic signals at the intersection, adding countdown signals for pedestrians on Thomson Avenue at 30th Street, 30th Place, 31st Street, and 31st Place.
Last month, the agency presented a safety plan [PDF] to CB 2′s transportation committee that would prohibit right turns from westbound Thomson Avenue to Skillman Avenue, with the short right-turn ramp blocked by flexible posts or granite blocks. DOT also proposed installing planters in the former turn lane, to be maintained by LaGuardia Community College. The plan would also prohibit left turns from eastbound Thomson Avenue to Skillman Avenue.