BY JOE MARVILLI
A much-utilized pedestrian tunnel’s poor condition has local residents fuming.
The tunnel in question is located in Bellerose on 88th Road. It runs underneath the Cross Island Parkway, connecting the two ends of the neighborhood without requiring residents to walk half a mile to Hillside Avenue or Jericho Turnpike. In recent years, the tunnel has fallen into a dilapidated condition, with garbage, graffiti, peeling paint and burnt-out lights.
Several civic leaders and community members joined State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in a call for the Dept. of Transportation to fix up the passageway and make it safe.
“I’ve come through this pass for several years. I’ve never seen it in such a terrible condition,” Avella said. “A major job has to be done here.”
The senator added that when he contacted the DOT about the tunnel, the agency said that it only has one unit for the entire City that deals with bridges and tunnels. Avella said that this limitation means that the tunnel will wind up on the bottom of the priority list.
When reached for comment, a DOT representative said that the DOT did receive a letter from Avella about graffiti on the tunnel and the agency is conducting maintenance at the site. While some of the graffiti was painted over, Avella and the civics said that it was not enough.
“It’s very symptomatic of the City. They do things half-assed and this really has to stop,” Jerry Wind, president of the Bellerose Hillside Civic Association, said. “A couple of years ago, there was a police officer assaulted in this tunnel. It’s important that the lighting be fixed.”
According to members of the community, the lights in the tunnel have been out for months. One light fixture even appeared to be in danger of falling off the tunnel’s ceiling.
Michael O’Keeffe, from the Creedmoor Civic Association, said that the tunnel is often used by children and senior citizens.
“The school is on one side, the church on the other side,” he said. “All the more reason why it needs to be safe and well-lit.”
Although there are many problems leading to the tunnel’s unsafe environment, the tunnel is structurally sound. The Bellerose Commonwealth Civic Association said they would keep pushing the DOT to get the required work done.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.