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Gianaris urges Koch Bridge check after 4th crash

State Sen. Michael Gianaris is asking for a review of the traffic pattern of the Queensborough Bridge off-ramp on Queens Plaza South near Crescent Street, where four accidents have occurred.
TimesLedger Newspapers

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said he is asking the city Department of Transportation to do another comprehensive review of the Ed Koch-Queensborough Bridge off-ramps after a fourth car accident took place near the bridge last week.

“I think the DOT has not done enough to fix the traffic pattern there,” Gianaris said.

In an echo of three accidents last year, a car coming off the exit ramp of the Queensborough Bridge May 1 lost control on the off-ramp on Queens Plaza South near Crescent Street in Long Island City, Gianaris said.

While there were no injuries and the driver declined medical attention, the senator called the incident “frightening” in his letter last Thursday to Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy.

Three cars got into accidents at the intersection in 2011, and two of those crashes resulted in casualties. On March 28, 2011 at around 4 a.m., Grant Riddell lost control of his Volkswagen while driving on the off-ramp and traveled onto the sidewalk, killing pedestrian Anthony Buscemi and destroying two stores.

Riddell, who lost his arm in the accident, is now facing two charges of vehicular assault, vehicular manslaughter, operating a vehicle under alcohol or drugs and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, the Queens district attorney’s office said. His next court date is June 13, the DA said.

Nine days after Riddell’s accident on April 6, 2011, at around 4 a.m., Alexander Palacio lost control of his Volkswagen and hit the same stores. Palacio also lost his arm in the accident and was later charged with driving without a valid license. His passenger, Beatriz Rodriguez, died due to injuries sustained in the crash.

In May 2011, another Volkswagen driver lost control coming down the off-ramp. While concrete barriers that had recently been erected prevented the car from smashing into the stores, the Volkswagen hit the barriers and a livery cab.

Both Palacio and the owners of the stores have sued the city as a result of the crash.

Gianaris said while some of the drivers were allegedly speeding, the DOT must still ensure the ramps are as safe as possible.

“Finger-pointing does not make people safer,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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