BY JON CRONIN
An effort to ban truck traffic from Grand Avenue in Maspeth has not worked out as well as the city Department of Transportation had hoped, leading the agency and local leaders to consider new alternatives.
In 2012 the DOT rearranged truck routes, essentially banning them on Flushing and Grand Avenues, which big trucks would use to access the industrial areas around Newtown Creek from the Long Island Expressway. The route took them through a heavily residential part of a Maspeth and residents feared they were too dangerous for those roads – a fear that sparked into reality when a child was killed by a truck at Grand Avenue and Fresh Pond Road in 2010.
“Their efforts have not been super successful,” said Toby Sheppard Bloch, Co-Chair of the Community Board 5 Transportation Committee. “Compliance has dwindled,” he added, explaining that there are still trucks where they should not be. Bloch noted that in light of this the DOT has recently extended their area of study.
Bloch noted that people on Grand Avenue are tired of the truck traffic. “It’s noisy, polluting and just unpleasant,” he said.
The DOT recently released an update on the master plan for reducing truck traffic.
One of their possible solutions is to add a temporary truck inspection station on Grand Avenue and a permanent truck inspection station on Flushing Avenue. This will allow space for police officers to examine trucks and talk to drivers. If the trucks are making a local delivery they will be allowed to move on, if not they will be issued a citation.
Bloch stated that the DOT may build a facility for NYPD to intercept trucks via camera. The cameras would be part of a closed circuit and the officers will have to witness it through the feed. There will be no automated enforcement.
The DOT is considering laser classifiers under the Flushing Avenue overpass to detect taller vehicles. Drivers will not be issued citations but data as to whether new restrictions are being followed will be retained.
Bloch noted that the DOT will be looking into making roads less hospitable for trucks south of the LIE. According to the DOT’s presentation on their website, Grand Avenue lanes will be narrowed for car traffic to 11 feet in width and two bicycle lanes will be added.
Trucks have famously been using this route to avoid the steep climb on the Kosciuszko Bridge, especially trucks with heavy loads. The bridge is being replaced with one with less of a climb and the state DOT aims to have the first span of the new parallel cable-stayed bridge completed next year. They will then knock down the old bridge and build a second span.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JonathanSCronin