Intersection redesign improves pedestrian safety and access to nearby parks; DOT continues toward goal to improve 1,000 intersections, with focus on underserved communities

New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez today announced the completion of an intersection redesign to improve safety at Highland Park and Ridgewood Reservoir, helping underserved communities better connect with their local greenspaces along the Brooklyn and Queens border.

“In the heat of the summer, communities like Ocean Hill, East New York, Cypress Hills and Richmond Hill need and deserve safe access to high-quality parks as much as anyone else,” said DOT Commissioner Rodriguez. “This project will help ensure residents in these neighborhoods can safely walk to the beautiful grounds of Highland Park and the Ridgewood Reservoir. We thank the advocates who tirelessly championed these upgrades and we look forward to continuing our intersection improvements across the five boroughs.”

“Highland Park is a two-borough treasure, and we’re thrilled that it’s now safer than ever for pedestrians to access thanks to DOT’s latest project,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “We thank DOT for their great work adding a new sidewalk and curb extension to this intersection, helping pedestrians feel safer visiting this wonderful greenspace and ultimately expanding greenspace access for New Yorkers.”

At the request of local advocacy groups, DOT targeted upgrades at the intersection of Vermont Place and Highland Boulevard to transform a highway-like intersection into a pedestrian-friendly crossing that calmed traffic and added a new concrete sidewalk. The DOT also painted a curb extension to reduce pedestrian crossing time and slow vehicles turning off of Vermont Place.

The upgrade fills gaps in the DOT’s pedestrian network and offers safer pedestrian access to Highland Park, a heavily used park for walking and exercise. The park is situated on a high plateau, straddling the Brooklyn and Queens boarder, offering sweeping views of the Rockaways and Atlantic Ocean.

1,000 Intersection Commitment

Under the Adams Administration, DOT has pledged to improve 1,000 intersections a year to address pedestrian safety. Intersections pose a special safety challenge in New York City, where crashes at intersections typically comprise 50 percent of all fatalities and 70 percent of all injuries. For pedestrians, the dangers are more pronounced: 55 percent of pedestrian fatalities and 79 percent of pedestrian traffic injuries occur at intersections. DOT is well on its way to meet its 1,000-location target for 2022.

“These intersection upgrades go a long way toward improving safety and the overall quality-of-life for those living near the Queens-Brooklyn border,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Those seeking to walk utilize the beautiful Highland Park and Ridgewood Reservoir for recreation and exercise, or who are just looking to walk in this wonderful neighborhood, can now do so more safely and with more peace of mind. I commend the New York City Department of Transportation, led by Commissioner Rodriguez, for its continued commitment to addressing pedestrian safety, especially at our City’s intersections.”

“I am proud to join the DOT and pedestrian safety advocates to do this critical intersection redesign in my district. I have long championed pedestrian safety in Ridgewood at dangerous intersections,” said State Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar. “The intersection of Vermont Place and Highland Boulevard, where there have been at least 20 traffic injuries, will now have a pedestrian-friendly crossing for everyone visiting the beautiful Ridgewood Reservoir. Highland Park benefits the safety, health, mental wellness, climate, and air quality of my constituents in Ridgewood, and the redesign will provide an underserved community with green space. I commend Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriguez for spearheading this redesign.”

“Highland Park and Ridgewood Reservoir are vital sources of outdoor space for our community members, but for far too long, it has been a hazard to access some of the city’s most beautiful hidden gems. While these crosswalk additions may seem like a small improvement, Vermont Place and Highland Boulevard are treated by drivers like an extension of our city’s highways, and these pedestrian upgrades make it clear that this is a community space,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutierrez. “I’m thankful to the community members and NYCH20 that have been advocating for common sense mitigations for years to improve the park and to increase access.”

“Our parks and green spaces are the jewels of our city and it’s important that everyone has safe, convenient access to them,” said Council member Robert Holden. “That’s why I applaud the DOT for improving this intersection and allowing more families to safely enjoy Highland Park and the Ridgewood Reservoir.”

“Highland Park is an essential greenspace for its surrounding communities,” said Council Member Sandy Nurse. “The pedestrian safety and traffic-calming measures unveiled by the DOT today are welcome improvements that will offer safer access to the park. I look forward to working with Commissioner Rodriguez and the DOT to continue to improve pedestrian safety throughout District 37.”

“These safety improvements transform access to the Ridgewood Reservoir and Highland Park for bicyclists, walkers, and people using wheelchairs coming from Brooklyn,” said NYC H2O Director Matt Malina. “They slow down vehicles from the Jackie Robinson Parkway and provide new bike lanes and sidewalks. We are thankful to DOT and the Adams Administration for their commitment and responsiveness to our advocacy for this critical improvement in safety and parklands access.”

“Safe intersections save lives. We’re glad to see DOT make important safety improvements at Highland Park and Ridgewood Reservoir by calming traffic and putting pedestrians first,” said Transportation Alternatives Queens Organizer Laura Shepard. “We look forward to working with DOT to bring safe, accessible intersections to every neighborhood.”

“The traffic-calming measures around Highland Park will give Queens and Brooklyn residents not only greater access to nearby greenways, but also much safer access to these and other local amenities,” said President and CEO of Bike New York Ken Podziba. “We thank Commissioner Rodriguez and the staff at DOT for prioritizing equity in the roll-out of citywide infrastructure improvements and for centering the health and wellness of those who live by Highland Park.”

“Highland Park and Ridgewood Reservoir are two wonderful open spaces that for far too long have been difficult for New Yorkers to get to safely, said StreetsPAC Executive Director Eric McClure. “We’re grateful to Commissioner Rodriguez and NYCDOT for improving pedestrian safety at Highland Boulevard and Vermont Place as part of their effort to redesign intersections across the city, and we applaud NYCH2O for advocating to make this lovely park and its reservoir more accessible to people walking and biking – and by bus. We join NYCH2O in urging New York City Transit to add a bus stop near the reservoir.”