By Jon Cronin
After eight months of residents along the Woodhaven and Cross Bay corridor shaking their fists at the air when anyone mentions the Select Bus Service plans for the boulevards, the Department of Transportation has agreed to hear more community input.
State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) announced on Tuesday that the city DOT has agreed to delay the project and hold meetings with local residents throughout 2016 to gather more of their input.
“Since this plan was announced, I have stated that the changes DOT and MTA are looking to make must have our community’s best interest in mind,” said Addabbo. “I don’t want Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard to be even more congested, or residential streets becoming dangerous with traffic looking to bypass the main road, nor local businesses located on streets such as Jamaica and Liberty avenues suffering due to the implementation of a ‘no left turn’ rule. We have been very vocal with our hesitations regarding this SBS proposal, and I am truly grateful that both DOT and MTA have listened to our concerns and are willing not to rush the project along, while we continue to work on a plan that benefits not only bus riders, but drivers, pedestrians, businesses and the surrounding communities.”
Addabbo’s office reports that there was a meeting between the senator, the DOT and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last week. They all agreed that “more community engagement and a review of that input due to the concerns that have been voiced in recent months and the complexity of the project,” according to a statement from the senator’s office.
The initial SBS proposal would remove a traffic lane on Woodhaven Boulevard between Rockaway Boulevard and Park Lane South and it would create a ‘Bus Only’ lane for the Q52 and Q53 routes in both directions of the corridor.
Residents along the corridor spoke out vociferously against the plan when they heard that left hand turns along the boulevard would be cut, and they spoke out against the idea of putting bus stops on the median strips in the middle of the street.
The DOT initially held SBS informational meetings for public feedback this past spring in other areas of Queens and planned to hold more this fall. Those meetings will now take place in 2016 as DOT planners take in resident input and work on recreating the proposal.
“There are many communities in Queens that are in need of improved public transportation, and my district is no different, but these improvements should not come at such a high cost to residents and businesses,” said state Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven). Miller also suggested at a recent Woodhaven Residents Block Association meeting that the old Rockaway line should be paved over and used as a busway.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin