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Posts from the The Bronx Category

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Hit-and-Run Drivers Killed Three Victims in Four Hours on Sunday [Updated]


Fatal Park Slope hit and run by Gothamist

Correction: Park Slope Stoop reports that the Park Slope victim was walking, not riding a bike. The copy in this post has been altered accordingly.

Hit-and-run drivers killed three New York City pedestrians within a few hours on Sunday.

Jose Contreras, 63, was struck by the driver of a black SUV as he crossed Webster Avenue at E. 175th Street, near the Cross Bronx Expressway, at approximately 1:30 a.m., according to the Times and WABC.

A hit-and-run driver killed Jose Contreras on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo via WPIX

A hit-and-run driver killed Jose Contreras on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo via WPIX

WABC reports:

Contreras was celebrating his sister’s 80th birthday and pulled over his car, his family said. He was going back in to check on his family because they were taking awhile to get out of the catering hall, and was crossing the street when he was hit.

“I left my father in the car, and I figured that’s where he would be when I came back out,” Joseph Contreras, the victim’s son, told the Post. “But when I came back out, he was in the middle of the street, laying in his own blood.”

Contreras died at Saint Barnabas Hospital.

At around 4:40 a.m., 48-year-old Besik Shengelia was retrieving items from his SUV on 111th Street near 109th Avenue in South Ozone Park when he was struck by a driver who left the scene. The make and model of the vehicle that hit Shengelia is unknown. He was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.

WABC, which reported that Shengelia worked for Uber, spoke with witnesses, including a woman who stopped other drivers from running over Shengelia after he was hit.

“It’s a shame that people was driving by and nobody stopped. National Grid saw me stopping traffic, and they came and helped us,” says [Sonia] Ramirez.

“The street does have a problem late at night with people speeding up and down the street, basically, and something needs to change around here,” eyewitness David Moore says.

The Post reported that Shengelia was “a former commander of the Georgian navy during the country’s 2008 war with Russia” who moved to the city with his family.

About 20 minutes after Shengelia was struck, the driver of a Nissan Altima ran a red light and hit a pedestrian in Park Slope.

Read more…

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DOT Adds Welcome Chunk of Pedestrian Space to Bronx Broadway Hellscape

New sidewalk space at Broadway and W. 231st Street, to the right of the subway steps. Photos: Brad Aaron

New sidewalk space at Broadway and W. 231st Street, to the right of the 1 train steps. Photos: Brad Aaron

DOT reclaimed a nice chunk of space for pedestrians on a corner of Broadway in the Bronx, bringing some relief to an area that’s otherwise deplorable for New Yorkers who walk and bike.

The curb on the northwest corner of Broadway at W. 231st Street in Kingsbridge, beneath the elevated 1 train, was once lined with parked cars. Years ago the city added a pedestrian island a few feet off the curb, shortening the crossing distance and giving people waiting for the Bx9 a place to stand other than in the street.

Last fall DOT filled in the gap between the curb and the pedestrian island. Now the sidewalk is contiguous, extending from the old curb line to the 1 train stanchion. In total, the new space is roughly two car widths wide and four car lengths long.

Waiting for the Bx9 is not as dehumanizing as it once was.

Waiting for the Bx9 is not as dehumanizing as it once was.

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DOT: Grand Concourse Project to “Replace and Upgrade Existing Bike Lanes”

A cyclist was killed last year at the intersection of Grand Concourse and 158th Street, pictured, where there is currently no dedicate bike infrastructure. Photo: Google Maps

A cyclist was killed last year at the intersection of the Grand Concourse and 158th Street, above, where there is currently no bike infrastructure. Photo: Google Maps

With Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz calling for better bike infrastructure on the Grand Concourse, there’s some serious political momentum to make this major north-south thoroughfare a safer street. How far will DOT take it?

The Grand Concourse is one of DOT’s Vision Zero “Great Streets” projects slated for capital improvements in the next few years. Currently, it has buffered bike lanes on the service roads above 162nd Street but no bike infrastructure south of that.

That’s a problem: A sizable chunk of cyclist injuries on the Grand Concourse in 2015 occurred below 162nd Street, including one fatality at 158th Street by Franz Sigel Park.

An agency spokesperson provided the following statement when Streetsblog asked if the Grand Concourse would be redesigned with a protected bike lane:

DOT plans to replace and upgrade the existing bike lanes as part of the ongoing capital reconstruction of the Grand Concourse. We expect to present proposals for the next phases of Capital Reconstruction to local stakeholders and Community Boards in the Spring.

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Epileptic Cab Driver on Trial for Murder for Bronx Sidewalk Killings

Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown were on a Grand Concourse sidewalk when they were run over and killed by Emilio Garcia.

Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown were on a Grand Concourse sidewalk when they were run over and killed by Emilio Garcia.

The driver of a green cab who killed a child and a man on a Bronx sidewalk last year was charged with murder.

The Bronx district attorney’s office said Emilio Garcia was not taking his epilepsy medication when he fatally struck 4-year-old Tierre Clark and 25-year-old Kadeem Brown on the Grand Concourse at E. 170th Street on March 20, 2015.

Press accounts published after the crash said Clark injured two other people. One of the injured victims was reportedly a 55-year-old man. The other was Sanequa Howe, Tierre’s mother, who suffered bone fractures.

“When we are waiting for the bus, she gave me a kiss and she was dancing around, she never saw it coming,” Howe told WABC.

Gothamist reported that, according to the DA’s office, Garcia was aware of his epilepsy and had been in another crash, causing injuries to a second driver, four months before Tierre and Brown were killed.

The DA’s office told Streetsblog last October that Garcia was charged with manslaughter and homicide. According to court records, current charges against Garcia are two counts of murder, one count of assault (a class D felony), two counts of negligent homicide (a class E felony), and one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment.

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Bronx Beep Ruben Diaz Jr. Calls for Better Bikeway on Grand Concourse

The Grand Concourse has bike lanes above 162nd Street, but they’re often blocked by double-parked cars. Image via Google Maps

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. wants better bike infrastructure on the Grand Concourse.

In his “State of the Borough” speech on Thursday, Diaz said a bike lane on the Concourse is among his 2016 policy goals. “We’ve made improvements to the Grand Concourse, and we will bring a dedicated bike lane to this iconic roadway,” Diaz said.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

The Grand Concourse extends about five miles from the southwestern tip of the borough to Mosholu Parkway. Below 162nd Street there are no bike lanes. Last year a cyclist was killed crossing the Concourse by Franz Sigel Park at 158th Street.

Above 162nd Street the Concourse has a central roadway and service roads. The service roads have buffered bike lanes next to curbside parking, but they’re faded and prone to blockage by double-parked cars. Converting those bike lanes to a Queens Boulevard-style design should be a relatively simple matter.

DOT is expected to put forward a redesign of the Grand Concourse soon. It is one of four “Vision Zero Great Streets” slated to receive a combined $250 million in capital improvements over the next few years.

Transportation Alternatives’ Bronx Activist Committee has been pushing for a “complete street” redesign of the Grand Concourse, organizing monthly “Complete the Concourse” rides and winning the support of council members Ritchie Torres and Andy Cohen. With Diaz on board for improved bike infrastructure, political support is aligning nicely.

Diaz spokesperson John DeSio confirmed that he has decided to support safety improvements on the Grand Concourse, and that the ball is in DOT’s court to move forward with a proposal. “A lot of the Grand Concourse doesn’t [have bike lanes] and we want to make sure we have a safe and consistent means to cycle up the Grand Concourse,” he said.

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Tremont Avenue in Line for New Cross-Bronx Bike Route

DOT's plan for Tremont Avenue will install a number of treatments, primarily dedicated lanes and sharrows, to create the first east-west bike route in the western Bronx. Image: DOT

DOT’s plan will add painted lanes and sharrows to Tremont Avenue in the West Bronx. Image: DOT

Last month, when Council Member Ritchie Torres lambasted DOT’s deference to community boards over street safety projects, he anticipated a fight over the agency’s plan for bike lanes on Tremont Avenue.

DOT presented its design for the western segment of Tremont Avenue to Bronx Community Board 5 on January 20 [PDF] and, the following day, presented the design for the eastern segment to Community Board 6 [PDF]. The project follows up on a 2014 request from Torres for a Tremont Avenue bike route spanning the width of the South Bronx, though it only covers the section between the Harlem River and the Bronx River.

The redesign calls for painted bike lanes and sharrows along a 4.1-mile stretch of Tremont Avenue between Cedar Avenue and Boston Road. Once the new designs are implemented, Tremont Avenue will be the northernmost crosstown bike route in the West Bronx.

DOT has identified Tremont as a Vision Zero priority corridor. From 2010 to 2014, 10 cyclists, 33 pedestrians, and 36 motor vehicle occupants were killed or severely injured in the project area. The proposal includes safety improvements at multiple intersections: Sedgwick and Undercliff, the Grand Concourse underpass, and Tremont’s intersections with Grand Avenue, Jerome Avenue, Park Avenue and Crotona Avenue.

Most of the route will be painted bike lanes, with sharrows accounting for a little less than a mile. Moving east from Cedar Avenue, the design consists of a shared lane before shifting to dedicated lanes that run from M.L.K. Boulevard to Morris Avenue. Beginning at the Grand Concourse underpass, cyclists will again have to share a lane with cars, but DOT is installing traffic-calming treatments, including narrower motor vehicles lanes and curb extensions.

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Merchants: DDC Taking Forever to Finish Plaza at Bronx Hub [Updated]

Progress has been hard to spot at Roberto Clemente Plaza in Mott Haven, according to BID director Steven Fish. Photo: Steven Fish

Construction at Roberto Clemente Plaza in Mott Haven has seen minimal progress this year. Photo: Steven Fish

In 2008, DOT repurposed street space at the Hub in Mott Haven to greatly expand and improve Roberto Clemente Plaza. The first version of the project was made with low-cost materials — paint, planters, and gravel. Afterward, the city committed to building out the project in concrete. But the agency in charge of delivering capital projects, the Department of Design and Construction, has been working on it for years and still has no definite timetable for completion.

DDC broke ground on the project more than two years ago, with an expected 18-month construction timeline. Today the site is still a jumble of construction equipment and vehicles. Local retailers say the construction zone is an eyesore, providing cover to gangs and drug users and driving people away from surrounding businesses.

“General consensus is that this is a hellhole and there’s no end in sight,” Third Avenue BID Director Steven Fish told Streetsblog. Fish organized a forum in October for local business owners and residents to vent their frustrations with the project delays.

Representatives from DDC attended the forum but could not give a concrete completion date, Fish said. DDC’s online database says construction will wrap by August, 2016, but officials at the forum said it was more likely to last through 2017.

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The Randall’s Island Connector Is Finally Here


This spring, the Highbridge re-opened between the Bronx and Manhattan, the first car-free crossing linking the two boroughs. Now the second one in less than a year is open with the debut of the Randall’s Island Connector. The project has been in the pipeline for what seems like forever, and on Saturday it opened to the delight of many South Bronx residents.

The connector provides a direct and easy link between the developing South Bronx greenway network and Randall’s Island, with its athletic fields, picnic tables, miles of beautiful greenways, and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. From Randall’s Island, you can bike or walk to the big island via the 103rd Street footbridge.

Advance apologies for some of the sound. When the winds are gusting over 30 mph and you are below an Amtrak train trestle, well, those aren’t ideal conditions. But kudos to the hundreds of people who showed up on a cold and blustery fall morning to celebrate the occasion.

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Sidewalks Are No Sanctuary: Driver Jumps Curb, Kills 3 in the Bronx

Nyanna Aquil, left, and Kristian Leka, were two of three people killed in the Bronx by a curb-jumping driver on Halloween, along with Nyanna’s grandfather Louis Perez. Photos via Daily News

Nyanna Aquil, left, and Kristian Leka, were two of three people killed in the Bronx by a curb-jumping driver on Halloween, along with Nyanna’s grandfather Louis Perez. Photos via Daily News

A motorist killed three people Saturday, including a 10-year-old girl, and injured three others when he drove onto a Bronx sidewalk crowded with trick-or-treaters.

Police told the media Howard Unger, 52, of the Bronx, was driving west on Morris Park Avenue in a Dodge sedan at around 5 p.m. when he hit another vehicle from behind multiple times, hit a bus, and drove against oncoming traffic before going over the curb near Bogart Avenue.

Witnesses said the vehicle struck the victims on the sidewalk and went airborne. Photos from the scene show the car atop a fence, several feet off the ground, outside 936 Morris Park Avenue.

Unger killed Nyanna Aquil; her grandfather, 65-year-old Louis Perez; and Kristian Leka, 24, who according to the Times “was holding his younger sister’s hand to keep her safe.” Perez’s 3-year-old granddaughter, Leka’s sister, and Leka’s fiancé were injured.

From the Daily News:

“The guy in front of my feet, his body was torn in half. He was dead already,” said Kristina DeJesus, a hospital administrative assistant.

There was a young girl on the side of the car. She was like, ‘Can somebody help me?’ I was screaming at her, ‘Whatever you do, don’t move!’

“I had no time to cry … to react,” she added. “My body went into help mode.”

Unnamed investigators told the Times and the Post Unger may have had a seizure before the crash. The Daily News reported that Unger “did not have a history of seizures or other health issues,” according to his mother.

“We are looking at every possible aspect,” said Joe McCormack, vehicular crimes chief for District Attorney Robert Johnson.

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DA Robert Johnson: Manslaughter Charges for Cab Driver Who Killed Two

Bronx DA Robert Johnson says cab driver Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown. Image: News 12

Bronx DA Robert Johnson says cab driver Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown. Image: News 12

District Attorney Robert Johnson has filed felony charges against the green cab driver who killed two people on a Bronx sidewalk.

Johnson’s office told Gothamist Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he hit 5-year-old Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown, 25, at the Grand Concourse and E. 170th Street on March 20.

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Reports published after the crash said Clark also hit a 55-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, who according to some outlets was Tierre’s mother, as they waited for a bus.

From Gothamist:

According to a spokeswoman for the Bronx DA’s office, Assistant DA Morgan Dolan argued in court that Garcia had been aware of his epilepsy, and had also been involved in a minor crash on December 31, 2014 — a few months before the crash that killed Brown and Clark. The earlier crash took place at East 149th Street and Brook Avenue in the South Bronx last New Years Eve, and resulted in minor injuries to another driver.

Garcia was charged with manslaughter and homicide, Johnson’s office told Streetsblog. Court records say he was arraigned on October 15 and held on $100,000 bond.

The Bronx crash resembles the case of garbage truck driver Auvryn Scarlett, who killed two tourists in Manhattan in 2008 after he went off his medication and had a seizure behind the wheel. Scarlett was convicted of murder, but last week an appeals court reduced the conviction to manslaughter. Prosecutors said Scarlett did not inform his employer or the DMV that he had epilepsy and that he went off his medication so he could drink.

Garcia’s trial is scheduled to begin in January.