BY JON CRONIN
At the Woodhaven Residents Block Association meeting on Saturday, Martin Colberg, the Woodhaven Residents Block Association president, was disappointed that the community’s suggestions regarding the Select Bus Service proposal on the Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards corridors to the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the City Department Of Transportation, were dismissed. He said, the MTA and DOT believe they’re the experts, “we’re the experts in our community. Not the city. Not the mayor.”
“We need change, but change that’s going to work for everyone,” Colberg said. He applauds the DOT for pushing the SBS program out a year, but is skeptical as to whether it was to appease the community or the DOT’s vendors were not ready for implementation.
Alex Blenkinsopp, communications director of the WRBA, said, “It probably seems like we’re beating a dead horse talking about SBS.
He said they hear a lot, “It’s a done deal,” adding, “It’s a way of convincing us to give up.”
Blenkinsopp announced that those opposing SBS created a website called saveourstreets.nyc. At the website people can read about the proposal, reasons for opposition, and make an informed decision when signing their petition against SBS in this form.
The WRBA meeting came a few days after Community Board 9 sought assurance from the DOT that their input would be considered as plans for SBS are finalized.
Taylor Gouge, deputy director of Transit Development for the DOT, said her presentation at the community board meeting was “not a full proposal,” and a more developed proposal would be presented to the community in the spring where the DOT would then take input from riders and drivers on the corridor.
Gouge said after the community outcry against the implementation of SBS, they decided to phase the project over the year to see what works along the corridor.
She made it clear that left turn restrictions off Woodhaven Boulevard have not been finalized.
Gouge stated that the DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, received a petition with over 6,000 signatures of people in favor of the SBS plan.
Blenkinsopp, also a member of CB 9, interrupted her stating that the petition is misleading because he knew people who were approached to sign it and they were only asked if they were in favor of better bus service and urged her, “Don’t misrepresent it to the public.”
Gouge noted that the DOT is there as part of an ongoing dialogue to discuss what the roadway could look like.
Kenichi Wilson, chairman of the CB 9’s Transportation Committee, said he was disappointed not to hear the results of the traffic study focused on the bus lane installed in Rego Park between Eliot and Metropolitan avenues. Previously, Wilson held off on his opinion of SBS, until the traffic congestion study was in but considering the study was not revealed, as he was informed it would be, he announced that as the SBS plan stands now he cannot support it.
Gouge said the DOT is only beginning to analyze data from the study.
Maria Thomson, a CB 9 member and executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, was concerned about how eliminating left turns onto Jamaica Avenue would affect local businesses.
Gouge said they are looking into the feasibility of a slip from the main corridor on to the service road to enable right turns on to Jamaica Avenue.
Giedra Kregzdys, vice president of the WRBA, spoke at the CB 9 against the DOT’s idea of placing bus stops on the median strip of the corridor and asked them to consider the fact that NYC Parks announced that they are no longer replacing trees on the corridor’s median because of a high mortality rate.
Gouge noted the City is growing and it needs more efficient transportation.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, email@example.com or @JonathanSCronin