Poisonous lead paint is raining down from the 7 train

By Danielle Furfaro

Originally published by the New York Post on April 23, 2017

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Poisonous lead-paint chips are raining down on several Queens neighborhoods from elevated subway tracks, threatening the health of passersby, especially children, officials told The Post.

The decrepit No. 7 train trestle — which runs through Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Woodside — hasn’t been repainted in more than three decades, said City Councilman Daniel Dromm, leaving the flaking lead-based paint exposed.

“I’m surprised it’s still standing, that’s how rusted and bad the chipping of the paint is and the lead dust particles are flying through the air,” said Dromm, who grew up in the area.

The amount of lead in the paint is 224,000 parts per million — or 44 times more than what is considered safe, according to the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, which tested the falling paint chips at the behest of residents, Dromm and others.

Dr. Morri Markowitz, director of the Lead Poisoning Treatment and Prevention Program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, was aghast to learn about the “extremely toxic” levels falling from the elevated tracks.

“I think the Department of Health or the city environmental agencies should get involved,” the concerned doctor said. “The lead paint could potentially be falling off of every elevated track throughout the city, not just on the 7 [line].”

Davon Lomax, director of the union, noted how heavily populated the area is.

“There are food carts, restaurants and schools under there, and the dust is getting everywhere, and it’s all breathable,’’ he said.

“This poses a threat to people who work and are passing underneath there every day.”

The dilapidated sections of the overhead tracks run from the 52nd street station to Junction Boulevard.

“It’s a poison, and kids shouldn’t be exposed to it,” said resident Samuel Rivera, 62, who lives in Jackson Heights. “The MTA should have repainted this by now, but they take their sweet time doing everything.”

Father-of-two Md Lokman Hossain said he is particularly worried about his 17-month-old son, noting that the tot could mistake a paint chip for food if it fell into his lap as they walked along Roosevelt Avenue.

“He could think it’s candy or something and swallow it, and it could lead to a big problem,’’ Hossain said.

Dromm said he has repeatedly pressed the MTA to take better care of the trestles, especially the area around the 74th Street/Broadway station.

“It has not been painted for at least 35 years that I can remember,” he said.

MTA officials said it has painted the trestles more recently than that, but they couldn’t say exactly when.

“No station on the 7 line, or the connecting infrastructure, has gone 35 years without being painted,” said agency spokeswoman Beth DeFalco. “We do annual joint inspections with NYCDEP of NYC Parks that are adjacent to our subway structures and quarterly inspections of other locations”

Markowitz called lead-based paints “indestructible, and recommended that those who live close to the tracks are at highest risk, and should seek out testing — as should MTA workers and commuters who spend time in the station.

Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities, hearing loss and seizures in children, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Read more here.

Dromm Delivers Safer Pedestrian Crossing for 37th Avenue

David Sargent, Joseph Ricevuto, Jacqueline Sung, and NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm cross 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights.

David Sargent, Joseph Ricevuto, Jacqueline Sung, and NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm cross 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights.

Jackson Heights, NY – NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm was successful in securing a new traffic safety measure called Leading Pedestrian Intervals, which gives walkers a head start before cars get the light to make turns across the crosswalk, along 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights. Pedestrians will now have an additional seven seconds to cross the street without any vehicular movement.

In February, more than 150 concerned residents packed the Jackson Heights Jewish Center for a pedestrian safety town hall meeting in the wake of the death of 67-year-old Henry Boimel, a resident of 35th Avenue, who was struck and killed by an Uber driver while crossing 37th Avenue at 76th Street. The meeting was organized by Dromm and featured NYPD officers from the 115th Precinct, representatives from the Queens District Attorney, and officials from the city’s Department of Transportation.

Dromm listened to his constituents about the need for a safer 37th Avenue which is burdened by tremendous congestion and conflicts between vehicles turning and residents walking. Following the event, Dromm wrote the DOT to demand the implementation of the traffic safety measure called Leading Pedestrian Intervals. In response, the NYC Department of Transportation started implementing the measure in the past two weeks. Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) typically gives pedestrians a 7 second head start when entering an intersection with a corresponding green signal in the same direction of travel. LPIs enhance the visibility of pedestrians in the intersection and reinforce their right-of-way over turning vehicles, especially in locations with a history of conflict.

Bike Lane Among Safety Improvements Slated for Next Phase of Queens Blvd.

By Katie Honan

Originally published by DNAinfo on February 12, 2016, 8:52 am.

The former "Boulevard of Death" will get fixes between Roosevelt and Jamaica avenues.  Photo Credit: NYC DOT.

The former “Boulevard of Death” will get fixes between Roosevelt and Jamaica avenues. Photo Credit: NYC DOT.

ELMHURST — The city is moving forward with its next phase of reforming the “Boulevard of Death” into a safer street for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

A request for proposals was issued for fixes to Queens Boulevard from Roosevelt to Jamaica avenues, which will be similar to the work done elsewhere in Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City.

Plans will be focused on making the boulevard safer for all, including a redesign of the medians and malls that will “calm traffic and provide a safer, more inviting, and accessible space for pedestrians as well as a separated and protected bicycle lane to allow for safe cyclist travel along the boulevard,” according to the RFP.

Along with a bike lane planned for the stretch, trees, benches, bus shelters and other design elements would also be added to the public space, officials said.

And traffic flow will be “optimized” with the removal of some service road access lanes and relocating buses to the main road, the document says.

At “hot spots” — places on the Boulevard with major safety concerns — there could be additional changes to the street, according to the RFP.

While the project is in its infancy, Councilman Danny Dromm brought up the changes at Community Board 4’s general meeting on Tuesday and urged people to keep an open mind.

One board member asked where a bike lane would go along the busy Queens Center Mall, and said there wasn’t room.

Dromm said safety was the main goal.

“The fact of the matter is, there are people bicycling [on Queens Boulevard] already so I think what we have to do is come up with a plan that works for as many people as possible,” he said.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference near the new Queens Boulevard bike lanes to announce the city had been its safest under new Vision Zero initiatives.

Read more here.

MTA Will Fund New Elmhurst LIRR Station

By Yvette Brown

Originally published in the Queens Tribune on January 14, 2016

The Long Island Rail Road is coming back to Elmhurst in the near future to help local residents get to and from the city in a more convenient way.

The reopening of the Elmhurst LIRR station, located on Broadway between Cornish and Whitney avenues, has been a goal of U.S. Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens), Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) since 2012. The station was shut down in 1985 because of the lack of usage.

The site of the former, and perhaps future, Elmhurst LIRR Station on Broadway in Elmhurst. File Photo courtesy of the Queens Tribune.

The elected officials had written letters to the LIRR president, held walk-throughs and conducted a ridership survey to get the process moving along, and it appears to have worked.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s 2015-2019 Capital Program, which includes $40 million and reconstructing the Elmhurst LIRR station, was approved in November 2015.

The first letter to the NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner and MTA Capital Program Review Board Chair Joan McDonald was to discuss the reopening and speak about how vitally important it is to ensure greater transportation options in the area. Crowley and Dromm initially wanted to reopen the LIRR station in January of 2012, which they both explained would not only create improved access to Midtown Manhattan, but also help create jobs in Elmhurst as well. Both elected officials led a walking tour of the site with officials from MTA to further explore the possibility of reopening the station in March of 2012. This was followed by a town hall with residents about a month later to discuss transportation issues within the community.

According to the 2010 Census, “Elmhurst is home to one of the most diverse populations in the country, a trend that will likely continue in the near future as the community continues to grow.”

The ridership survey was then conducted in June of 2013. There were two components of the survey, a written version and the other was in person with sites located at nearby subway stations and areas surrounding Elmhurst Hospital Center. Both of them contained questions about what means of transportation residents use at the time, their travel frequency, their mode of choice and how they might avail themselves of LIRR service.

“This survey will be very important in helping us determine if there is sufficient demand in the Elmhurst community to consider reopening the station,” said Helena Williams, LIRR President, during the time of the ridership survey. “We urge residents to take a few minutes to fill it out. There are many issues that need to be carefully evaluated as part of this process but this is an important first step.”

Following the ridership survey came the funding. Crowley, Meng and Dromm released a statement following the release of the MTA’s Capital Program.

“Restoring LIRR service to Elmhurst will help a burgeoning neighborhood reach its full economic potential and become a destination for all New Yorkers,” said Crowley, Meng and Dromm. “We are thrilled to learn the MTA agrees that investing in this community is a win-win and that they have included critical funding to rebuild the station in their recently proposed capital budget. For years, Elmhurst residents have called for greater transportation options and we are now one step closer to turning this idea into a reality. We will continue to work with MTA officials to ensure this project remains a top priority and look forward to the day when Elmhurst will be the next stop for millions of New Yorkers.”

“We have budgeted $30.5 million for the design and construction of a new LIRR station at Elmhurst,” said Aaron Donovan, spokesperson for the MTA. “It would include two new 12-car-long platforms along with staircases, platform railings, platform shelters, ticket vending machines, as well as lighting, communication and security systems. The station will be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, with elevators. The funding includes environmental review, design and construction.”

“For Elmhurst, one of Queens’ most vibrant and fastest-growing communities, the reopening of its LIRR station will be transformational,” said Crowley. “I applaud the MTA Board for approving the project as part of its 2015-19 capital program and I thank both Congresswoman Grace Meng and Council Member Daniel Dromm for their roles in helping to make this a reality. After years of advocating for this new station, the MTA Board approval means we are yet one step closer to not only ensuring local residents have the transportation options they deserve but also making sure Elmhurst lives up to its full economic potential.”

Read more here.

Western Queens Gazette: Tour Unkempt LIRR Overpass, Demand Improvements


(L. to r.); Christian Cassagnol, district manager, Community Board 4 Queens; Councilmember Daniel Dromm; state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky; Rosemarie Daraio, president, COMET Civic Group; and Geraldine Walsh, treasurer, COMET Civic Group.

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing); Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights); Christian Cassagnol, district manager, Community Board 4 Queens; Rosemarie Daraio, president, COMET Civic Group; and Geraldine Walsh, treasurer, COMET Civic Group, toured the 55th Avenue/Elmhurst Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) overpass with LIRR and Department of Sanitation officials to discuss the unkempt conditions and demand immediate improvements to address the situation.

“This site must be cleaned and made safe for pedestrians,” said Stavisky. “There is no substitute for an on-site visit to see conditions first-hand. Councilmember Dromm and I will continue to monitor the problem.”

“Quality of life issues are vitally important to the growth, strength and happiness of the community,” said Dromm. “Monday’s walk-through hopefully marks the start of a stronger commitment from the LIRR to keep their property clean. I thank the railroad, Senator Stavisky, the Department of Sanitation and the many community activists for working on this issue.”

Times Ledger: Second DOT slow zone okayed for Jax Heights

By Bill Parry

Jackson Heights is getting its second slow zone in the last year and a half. Drivers in the business and residential areas on both sides of Northern Boulevard will now be forced to take it slower.

“My message to drivers is slow down,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said when the Department of Transportation and area leaders announced its implementation Monday. “Don’t come to Jackson Heights thinking you’re going to speed through this community and get away with it.”

The entire area between 69th Street to 87th Street between Roosevelt Avenue and 34th Avenue will have a 20 mph speed limit, 26 new speed bumps and 23 neighborhood slow zone gateways, high visibility blue signs announcing the lower speed limit. The Department of Transportation chose the area after an evaluation on crash history, traffic fatalities, community support and the closeness of schools, day care and senior centers.

According to the DOT, there have been 14 pedestrians severely injured, 14 vehicle occupants injured and three fatalities in the zone since 2007.

“Unfortunately during the last few years these streets have seen traffic fatalities,” Dromm said. “The reduced speed and speed bumps will make an impact and get drivers to finally slow down. Additionally, the frequent signs along the periphery of the zone act as an educational tool to alert pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers that this is an area where people need to be cautious.”

Although he had worked to get these zones implemented for 2 1/2 years, DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall said Dromm was the first to apply for slow zones. The councilman credited Community Board 3 for the zones in addition to other projects like curb extensions and pedestrian plazas.

“We have the largest population of students and they gave to cross these streets,” CB 3 District Manager Giovanna Reid said. “Slowing traffic down to 20 mph will definitely make a difference and it will save lives.”

Dr. Laura Newman, co-founder of the Jackson Heights street safety advocacy group Make Queens Safer, said, “Parents are brimming with excitement about the slow zone and our neighborhood kids our fascinated. These are the types of safety features that are easily understood by children.”

State Assemblyman Michael Den Dekker (D-East Elmhurst) pointed out that not a single parking spot has been lost.

“We are particularly grateful to Commissioner Hall for instituting this slow zone without making any changes to the current parking allocation,” he said.

There was an added benefit for Dromm, who lives in the zone on 78th Street: some peace and quiet.

“Oftentimes these drivers would barrel down that street so fast that the windows in my apartment would shake,” he said.

Read more here.

Times Ledger: LIRR plans a return to Elmhurst after nearly 30 years

By Bill Parry

The Long Island Rail Road is taking steps to return service to Elmhurst for the first time in nearly 30 years.

When the MTA released its new Capital Program last week, $40 million was budgeted for a new railway station to replace the one that stood on Broadway between Cornish and Whitney avenues.

U.S. Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Grace Meng (D-Flushing) as well as Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) launched a campaign in 2012 to bring back rail service to the community.

“Restoring LIRR service to Elmhurst will help a burgeoning neighborhood reach its full economic potential and become a destination for all New Yorkers,” they said in a joint statement. “We are thrilled to learn that the MTA agrees that investing in this community is a win-win and that they have included funding to rebuild the station in their recently proposed capital budget. For years, Elmhurst residents have called for greater transportation options and we are now one step closer to turning this idea into a reality. We will continue to work with MTA officials to ensure this project remains a top priority and look forward to the day when Elmhurst will be the next stop for millions of New Yorkers.”

The original station site, which is on the LIRR’s Port Washington line, was shuttered in 1985 due to a reported decrease in ridership following significant changes to train schedules that made the station unattractive to commuters. Since the closure, Elmhurst’s growing population has suffered from a lack of efficient public transit into Manhattan.

“Elmhurst is the fastest growing neighborhood in my district,” Dromm said. “This is a very good step in the right direction. In Elmhurst people need new transportation alternatives to help them get to work and it would likely draw more business, and more jobs, to the community.”

He pointed out that an LIRR station in Elmhurst would help deliver shoppers and workers to the nearby Queens Center Mall and provide a valuable transportation link for Elmhurst Hospital Center.

Read more here.

Queens Chronicle: Plazas may be more useful than you think

Community leaders reflect on the benefit of having open spaces

by Tess McRae, Associate Editor | 0 comments

They’ve been popping up all over and elected officials, community leaders and residents are hoping the trend of pedestrian plazas will continue.

Since 2008, dozens of plazas have been installed or renovated in New York City and Queens has gotten a good deal of them.

“Originally, when we were working on Diversity Plaza, there was some push back from the nearby businesses,” Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “Now, since we’ve had presidential debates, community board meetings and a tree lighting ceremony down there, the businesses are starting to appreciate the increase of people in the area.”

In urban areas like Jackson Heights, Jamaica and Corona, plazas are less green spaces than they are town squares where people can sit and enjoy a coffee with friends and family.

“Even when I go to Diversity Plaza late at night I see all of the different ethnic groups sitting down and talking with each other,” Dromm said. “It brings people together and lets them share the day’s news.”

Many plazas, including Diversity, are placed in intersections where a high number of serious car accidents have occurred.

“It was one of the most dangerous corners in the area and we wanted to bring the crash rate down to zero,” Dromm said. “When we built the plaza, we had zero crashes.”

read more: http://www.qchron.com/editions/western/plazas-may-be-more-useful-than-you-think/article_ac5b1f11-33a8-52ab-b94a-6f2ea1bbc912.html