Sidewalk extensions at several points along Fulton Street, between South Portland Avenue and Grand Avenue, are in the pipeline, say representatives of the city Department of Transportation. The reason? In response to calls for improved street safety and pedestrian safety in the area, particularly in the wake of the tragic and preventable death of 30-year-old Victoria Nicodemus.
The planned street upgrade was unveiled at a Street Safety Town Hall meeting convened Tuesday night inside the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, and which featured not only DOT representatives, but also Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and several members of the NYPD and 88th Precinct leadership.
The sidewalk extensions are part of long-term capital improvements, said Sean Quinn, acting co-director of pedestrian improvement projects. While those are in the works, the DOT hopes to get a few maintenance issues done quickly in the meantime: refreshing markings and crosswalks, adjusting street lights, and other “immediate actions.”
“Because of drainage issues, this needs a longer timeline,” explained Quinn.
These changes are positive steps in the right direction, noted Nicodemus’ brother, Peter Miller, but he said what would be great is to have consequences for those who violate traffic rules — as driver Marlon Sewell did when he drove his car up the curb at Fulton and South Portland, striking Nicodemus and throwing her nearly 30 feet on December 6, 2015.
“I’m wondering why there can’t be more done to immobilize a car, or impound a car, or create some sort of repercussions that have more of an impact that simply arresting a guy, saying ‘Ticket! We arrested him!,’ and letting him walk out the next day and get back in his car,” said Miller.
In response, NYPD crash investigator Dennis Fulton said that while the police department is restricted by current laws — or lack thereof — and that they are committed to “acting within the parameters that we’ve been dealt and we’ll do our best to bring criminal charges against the individual.”
Fulton also noted that there is video of the incident, which was news to many in the room.
Local commanding officer of the 88th Precinct Captain Peter Fiorillo also invited Miller to come to his office at any time with any questions he may have about enforcement and other issues.
Miller said he is grateful that “the police department is doing what they can and the cops are doing a good job investigating,” but there is still work to be done on the judicial end. “I want serious repercussions. There has to be some changes. Hopefully it will happen. We’re meeting with the [Brooklyn] District Attorney next.”