By David Brand
Despite a concerted effort by the city to improve safety conditions on Queens Boulevard, the busy roadway once known as the “Boulevard of Death” was revived on Monday after a driver struck and killed a woman.
Elmhurst resident Yimei Gao, 73, died after a man driving a 2017 Kia SUV westbound near 56th Avenue plowed into her at roughly 6:22 a.m., police said.
The unidentified driver, 38, remained on the scene and was not arrested, police said. Gao was pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital.
“A tragic loss of life on Queens Boulevard this morning,” de Blasio said in a Twitter statement. “Vision Zero has achieved a lot, but there is so much work ahead to keep people safe on our streets. 2019 will bring more enforcement, more street redesigns and more education.”
For years, Queens Boulevard was known as the “Boulevard of Death” because of the high rate of traffic deaths. Since 1990, at least 186 people — including 138 pedestrians — were killed along Queens Boulevard, The New York Times reported last year. In 1997 alone, 18 pedestrians were killed.
In 2014, the city embarked on a large-scale project to revamp the roadway, starting with a 2.5 mile stretch through Woodside and Elmhurst.
The Department of Transportation added more crosswalks and expanded medians to Queens Boulevard.
In May 2017, de Blasio visited Queens Boulevard to mark more than two years without a pedestrian death and to announce the next phase of the Vision Zero plan on a 1.3-mile stretch between Eliot Avenue and Yellowstone Boulevard.
“Queens Boulevard offers the best and most dramatic proof that our efforts at Vision Zero are working,” de Blasio said. “What was once a ‘Boulevard of Death’ is no longer -- as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists all have become accustomed to enjoying a more vital, welcoming and safe street.