BY JON CRONIN
The City Department of Transportation gave the first Select Bus Service update to local stakeholders at a Community Advisory Committee meeting at Borough Hall on Tuesday morning.
Kenichi Wilson, chair of the Community Board 9’s Transportation Committee, updated the board at their monthly on the SBS Proposal, which may be implemented in the Autumn of 2017. He also noted that the plan preserves left turns off of Woodhaven Boulevard.
There will be still be a dedicated bus lane and Wilson added that bus lanes running in the center of the boulevard will be 24 hours a day while any offset bus lanes will be only during rush hour.
Board members were not happy to hear that the left turn off of Woodhaven Boulevard onto Union Turnpike will be banned.
Instead, drivers will be forced to go to 81st Road, the next block over, make a U-turn and then a right onto Union Turnpike.
The controversial idea to ban left turns on Metropolitan and Jamaica Avenues are removed from this plan.
Wilson said the left turn lane onto Jamaica Avenue heading north on Woodhaven Boulevard will get its own turning lane and will be put on the other side of the El column.
He noted that the original plan banned 12 left turns, now it has just eight.
Wilson said he was upset that only three public forums were scheduled to hear the proposal; at PS 42 in Arverne on May 17, PS 65 in Ozone Park on May 21, and PS 306 in Woodhaven on May 25. The DOT reps explained to him that they assumed they would also be attending meetings at Community Boards 5, 6, 9 and 10, which would act as four more public forums.
Alex Blenkinopp, spokesperson for the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, stated, “The updates to the proposal are an important step in the right direction. Some of these left turn bans, including the ones at Jamaica Avenue, would have been disastrous, and we’re very pleased the DOT heard us and changed course. There continue to be major problems with the proposal, though. DOT still wants riders to wait for their buses in the middle of the Boulevard, two lanes of traffic will still be eliminated 24/7, and replacing the Union Turnpike turn with a U-turn at 81st Road looks like a mistake. This partial victory for those who want a reasonable SBS plan for the Boulevard shows we have to continue to push for sensible changes to the proposal. The fight is far from over, and we’re not giving up.”
Masha Burina, a spokesperson for grassroots transportation advocates, the Rider’s Alliance, was happy to hear that the DOT was listening to community concerns, but is worried that they “might not see all the benefits of decreased congestion,” that were originally in Woodhaven Boulevard plan.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin