The city will redesign deadly McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint after a hit-and-run driver killed a beloved area teacher, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.
“We are putting money in the budget immediately to redesign and fix McGuinness Boulevard once and for all,” de Blasio said at a rally in McGolrick Park May 27. “We’re going to apply vision zero right here right now on McGuinness Boulevard because it’s long overdue.”
Matthew Jensen, who taught at nearby PS 110 on Monitor Street, was killed by the driver of a black Rolls-Royce sedan in the early hours of May 18 at the corner of Bayard Street right near an entrance to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
“Everyone from PS 110, I’m so sorry that you’re gathered here in pain and mourning. Mathew Jensen wanted to help kids,” the mayor said. “He is gone because of a hit and run crash. He is gone because someone killed him and left the scene, and this is what happens too often.”
Five-lane McGuinness Boulevard has long been a treacherous speedway splitting the north Brooklyn nabe in half and some 200 residents, former students of Jensen’s and their parents, along with safe streets activists and elected officials gathered Thursday to demand action.
“Over 15 people have been seriously injured or killed on the McGuinness Boulevard,” said Greenpoint Assemblymember Emily Gallagher. “Every single one of us knows that it could be any one of us to be killed there. If we don’t do something, something meaningful, there will be many more who will die on the McGuinness Boulevard.”
One family member remembered the morning he got the terrible call about Jensen’s killing on a roadway he’d crossed many times before.
“I got the call in the morning and after I figured out what Matthew they were talking about and then somehow through the fog I heard it was McGuinness Boulevard and I wasn’t surprised,” said his cousin John through tears.
The relative held up Jensen’s busted phone and house keys recovered from the crash scene and remembered his cousin fondly as someone who cherished his Christian faith and who had a good sense of humor.
“Matthew did many things unto people and those of you who escaped his humor are rare and lucky,” John said. “He wasn’t afraid of a joke or a sentence or an opinion.”
One former student said the late Brooklynite was beloved by all.
“Mr. Jensen was really a great teacher, and he was very special to everyone. Everyone loved him and everyone thought he was a good teacher. He was just a good person in general. He made a lot of people feel better,” Benjamin Ginsburg said.
The mourners marched from McGolrick Park to the crash site where they laid flowers in Jensen’s memory.