BY JAMES FARRELL
Flushing’s Main Street will undergo a yearlong reconstruction project that will widen sidewalks from 38th Avenue to 41st Avenue, Councilmember Peter Koo (D-Flushing) announced Tuesday. The announcement came alongside the Department of Transportation and the Department of Design and Construction.
The $7.8 million project, which will begin July 25, is aimed at increasing pedestrian safety and alleviating the heavy traffic flow along Main Street. Flushing is home to the second highest concentration of pedestrians in New York City, behind only Times Square. Ultimately, officials said they hoped wider sidewalks and better infrastructure would help keep pedestrians safer, in line with Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities.
“By improving sidewalk capacity and reconstructing Main Street, we are taking a major step to enhance pedestrian safety,” said Koo. “The $7.8 million project will significantly increase and will significantly improve the quality of life in downtown Flushing.”
The DOT and the DDC were on hand to discuss more specifics of the project, and to preemptively address concerns about how the project will impact daily life along Main Street for the next year.
“We understand that Main Street is a major thoroughfare for this neighborhood and we cannot just shut it down,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora.
“We need to maintain access to all points and we will do it,” he said.
The project will widen sidewalks along Main Street by three and three and a half feet in some areas, and as much as seven and eight-tenths feet on the western side between 40th Road and Roosevelt Avenue. Additionally, the project will resurface the roadbed and replace manholes, fire hydrants, sewers and water mains while increasing the number of catch basins.
Throughout the reconstruction, vehicles and pedestrians will have access to Main Street from both directions. However, there will be only one lane of traffic open to vehicles in each direction, and the DOT is considering limiting access to Main Street once the summer is over. This would mean that the southbound entrance to Main Street from Northern Boulevard would be restricted to buses and delivery trucks. Southbound traffic counts on Main Street are relatively low, which means that this restriction could have a minimal impact, according to Nicole Garcia, Queens DOT Commissioner, who was also present at the announcement. “We do believe that [southbound traffic] can be absorbed by neighboring streets such as College Point Boulevard and Prince Street,” she said. Garcia also announced that Prince Street would be repaved next month, before the Main Street project commences.
In order to further reduce impact, all construction will only occur at night. Additionally, affected bus stops will be relocated, and Traffic Enforcement Agents will be present at key intersections to help manage traffic.
“We understand that this is a vibrant place to live and to shop and to visit, so we really do appreciate the community’s patience as we move forward with this project,” said Garcia.
Koo emphasized the importance of this project as a necessary response to a crowded neighborhood, even in the face of potential inconvenience.
“From pedestrians just trying to stay on their feet to businesses seeking to attract customers, we need to upgrade our infrastructure,” Koo said. “This work will complement the repaving that was done last year and is the first time that Main Street will be reconstructed in 20 years.”
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x127 or email@example.com or @farrellj329.