Woodhaven street changes face roadblock


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

While the city’s plan to change the direction of two streets in Woodhaven is still on the table, major feelings of opposition within the community have not been rerouted.

Residents remain angry at the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plans to convert 84th Street from one-way northbound to one-way southbound from Liberty to Atlantic Avenues and turn 89th Avenue from a two-way to a one-way street running eastbound between Woodhaven Boulevard and 97th Street.

However, at a public hearing held on February 1, agency officials told locals that the community will ultimately make the final decision on whether or not to implement the changes.

“Neither one of these proposals is mandated to improve because it is a high-accident location, so this can be voted up or down by the community,” said Maura McCarthy, DOT borough commissioner. “The DOT is not going to implement this over the objection of the community. We only do that if it’s a big safety problem. Neither of these locations are accident-prone locations, so this is really up to a community vote.”

According to the DOT, the request to convert 89th Avenue to a one-way operation came from Community Board 9 (CB 9) in 2008 due to the narrow roadway width — coupled with parking on both sides — while the westbound direction was recommended to foster the safe curbside drop-off of students.

“The DOT receives a lot of requests for traffic changes, whether it is adding a stop sign, traffic signal or changing street directions,” McCarthy said, “We take each request, analyze the request and then bring it before the community board to have a vote.”

Still, local leaders said the changes would severely inconvenience residents traveling back and forth between Woodhaven and Ozone Park. It would also cause some residents to be forced to go “at least six blocks out of their way” to get home.

“I think we’ve done everything we can to make sure our opposition is well known. I really don’t know what else we could do. We’re not going to lie down on the street,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA), who said he left the meeting feeling positive and productive.

CB 9 was slated to vote on the proposals during a public hearing on February 14 in Kew Gardens, though they recently postponed it due to complaints from the community about the meeting’s “inconvenient” date and time. They will now be meeting on March 13 to vote in Woodhaven.

“Every board member will vote how they feel is appropriate. We do whatever the community wants us to do because it’s their request, but half of the people are for it and half of the people are against it,” said Andrea Crawford, chair of CB 9. “It’s really up to the people who are directly affected.”