Pedestrian Improvements at Jackson Avenue and the Pulaski Bridge

Queens, New York
Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)


New crosswalk at Jackson Avenue at Pulaski Bridge.

The Pulaski Bridge is a major connector between Queens and Brooklyn. The intersection of Jackson Avenue, 11th Street, and 49th Avenue is located at the base of the bridge in Queens. This intersection experienced heavy traffic volumes, a record of vehicle occupant injuries, and a history of complaints about pedestrian crossings. Northbound traffic from the bridge presented challenges for pedestrians in the east crosswalk because vehicles made double right turns from a service road, as well as from the main road, during different signal phases. There was no crosswalk on the south side of the intersection at the base of the bridge, yet pedestrians crossed because of a high volume bus-to-subway transfer along this desire line. It was also important to create safe pedestrian crossings in the area because recent zoning changes led to more foot traffic.


The intersection in the neighborhood of Long Island City served a growing residential and business population and divided two vibrant parts of the neighborhood, historic Hunter's Point to the west and the newer Jackson Avenue Arts District to the east. It had been recently rezoned to encourage additional residential density because of its access to transit.

The intersection was designed when that area of Queens was largely devoted to manufacturing. As the area became more residential, people in the neighborhood began to request better pedestrian crossings. Additionally, the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) sponsored a Designing for Pedestrian Safety training workshop for City and State planners and engineers that focused on this location. In response to the community's concerns and with insights from the workshop, the DOT developed a plan and proposed it to the Queens Community Board 2 Transportation Committee, which supported the changes.


To simplify the intersection and eliminate conflicts from the east crosswalk, all right turns from the bridge were guided to the service road, which allowed for a signal-protected east crosswalk. A new crosswalk was added on the south side of Jackson Avenue at the base of the bridge. The new crosswalk included three median refuge islands, two of which were landscaped and all of which were expansions of existing concrete medians.

Additionally, the right turns from the bridge service road were given the same phase as the left turns going onto the bridge reducing conflicts for the new south crosswalk. These changes allowed pedestrians to easily move between a bus stop and a subway station for the No. 7 line, as well as access the only sidewalk on the bridge on its west side. The block of 49th Avenue nearest the bridge was converted from a two-way to one-way street to reduce conflicts. On Jackson Avenue, the two approaching, shared westbound lanes were converted to two left-turn-only lanes and one through lane with one receiving lane on the far side to allow for a median.


The changes improved pedestrian safety, circulation and access. They also clarified vehicular movements for vehicle occupant safety. Traffic was managed with rationalized lane configurations and a new signal phasing plan. The intersection has been brought into a neighborhood scale with improved conditions for motorists, as well as pedestrians. Travel times for westbound vehicles on Jackson Avenue declined by 29 percent in the morning peak time and 23 percent in the evening peak time. While there were no statistically significant decreases in crashes in the project area, no bicycle or pedestrian injuries were recorded in the 17 months after implementation. With the improvements in pedestrian connectivity and safety, this area of Queens has been configured to better accommodate future pedestrian growth.


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