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City to invest $39 million to redesign deadly McGuinness Blvd

McGuinness
Mayor Bill de Blasio attended a rally on May 28 to promise a redesign of McGuinness Boulevard.
Photo by Dean Moses

The city is pledging $39 million to “fully redesign” McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint, where a hit-and-run driver fatally struck a public school teacher last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday.

“Vision Zero has made New York City safer and more livable — but its work isn’t finished until corridors like McGuinness Boulevard are improved for everyone who uses them,” the mayor said in a statement. “We can change this city’s streets for the better and forge a better Greenpoint for generations of Brooklynites to come.”

Matthew Jensen, an educator at Greenpoint’s PS 110, was crossing McGuinness on May 18 when he was fatally struck by a driver in a Rolls-Royce, who subsequently fled the scene. The NYPD has not yet made many arrests in the killing. 

The mayor announced his commitment to redesign McGuinness on May 28 at a rally at McGolrick Park, across the street from PS 110, though he was scant on details at the time.

The city will immediately begin work to upgrade some of the most glaring safety issues on the thoroughfare, such as missing crosswalks, as well as implementing “turn calming” measures. That first phase of work is expected to be completed by the fall.

The bulk of the $39 million will go towards larger capital construction projects to redesign the thoroughfare, such as by adding protected bike lanes and “shorten[ing] pedestrian crossings,” which is expected to be complete in 2022.

Local pols, including Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, and Councilmember Stephen Levin, gave their support to the project on Friday, saying the safety changes were long overdue.  

“The Mayor’s historic investment will restore a basic right to our community: the freedom to cross the street without fear of death of injury,” said Gallagher, who has heavily lobbied for a redesign in recent weeks. “McGuinness Boulevard has long symbolized the deadly consequences of infrastructure that prioritizes speeding cars and trucks over human life. That changes now. I am so proud of this community for coming together in the aftermath of tragedy after tragedy to demand change. And I am grateful to our Mayor for truly listening. Let’s get to work.”

Greenpoint’s Community Board 1 is also in lockstep with the mayor, after the Transportation Committee voted in favor of pursuing a full redesign. 

“While we were greatly saddened by the tragic loss of our esteemed educator, Matthew Jensen, we are inspired by the quick hand of our mayor to address this issue and ensure that action is taken so that the residents and visitors to Community Board 1 remain safe in their travels,” said CB1 chair Dealice Fuller.

McGuinness has long been identified as an unsafe street. Three people, including Jensen, have been killed on the stretch in Greenpoint between the Pulaski Bridge and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and dozens have been injured, according to NYC Crash Mapper.

“Activists have been sounding the alarm about the dangerous conditions on McGuinness Boulevard for a decade,” said Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “A $39 million plan to immediately begin safety improvements will go a long way to preventing crashes like the hit-and-run that killed Matthew Jensen.”

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