Tag Archives: Belt Parkway

Howard Beach resident starts petition to install lighting along Jamaica Bay Greenway path


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Valerie Lyn Brooks

Updated 3:50 p.m.

Lifelong Howard Beach resident Angelica Katz compares cycling along the Belt Parkway to entering a cave, with animals like raccoons and possums sporadically scurrying around you.

Katz, who has been riding her bike along Jamaica Bay since she was 14, started a petition on Aug. 20 to convince the Parks Department to install lights along the Jamaica Bay Greenway bike path to illuminate the way for bikers and pedestrians.

“It’s not just important; it’s completely necessary,” Katz said. “Once you get off the Marine Parkway Bridge, it is really desolate. It’s dark to the point where you feel like you just walked into a cave and you can’t even see your hand in front of you at night.”

Though the lack of lights has always been a problem, Katz said the recent Jamaica Bay Greenway plan that aims to revitalize the 19-mile route inspired her to start a petition. After contacting representatives associated with the plan, she found that the land consisting of the loop is Parks Department property and that the Department of Transportation (DOT) would be taking care of the construction. Katz was told installing lights along the loop is not in the plan.

“The whole road is going to look beautiful but you won’t be able to see any of it,” Katz said. “It just seems kind of ridiculous. That’s what pushed me over the edge.”

Her petition, which had 64 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon, asks the DOT, Regional Plan Association and National Parks service to “ensure this plan includes adequate path lighting that will create a safe environment for all cyclists and pedestrians while connecting the beautiful and unique parks, wetlands and beaches surrounding Jamaica Bay.”

After 100 people electronically sign the petition, Katz hopes to send it to community boards and parties associated with the plan to show the support that surrounding communities like Howard Beach, Rockaway and Broad Channel have for the plan.

Several people who signed the petition also expressed their concerns in the comments section, including Denise Sodano, a Belle Harbor resident who said she travels the route often and finds it “very dangerous.”

“It’s really comforting to know that it’s not just me, a resident waving my fist,” Katz said. “Everybody who uses the bike path feels like this.”

Planning meetings and workshops took place across communities in southeast Queens this summer to discuss the implementation of the plan and Katz hopes this petition is reflected in the final plan, which will be unveiled this fall.

“Safety is our first priority,” a spokesperson for the Parks Department said. “We are heartened by the enthusiasm for biking in this area, and we are open to exploring the feasibility of installing lights along this path with the Department of Transportation.”

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Three major Queens roadways led city in costly pothole claims: Stringer


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Queens streets have gone to pot.

Potholes on three major arteries serving Queens cost the city tens of millions of dollars in accident claims over the last six years, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

In a “ClaimStat alert” he issued on Thursday, Stringer said the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, along with the Grand Central and Belt parkways, accounted for a combined 1,561 claims between the 2010 and 2015 fiscal years, leading all other roadways in the five boroughs.

Back in February, the Department of Transportation (DOT) reported that Queens had the most potholes in the entire city.

The Belt Parkway, in particular, proved to resemble Swiss cheese more than a street, as the report pointed out that it “had the most pothole claims in four of the six years examined…making it by far the most pot-holed roadway in the city.”

Damages to vehicles that hit potholes on streets citywide cost taxpayers nearly $1.5 million in claims the city settled with drivers over the six-year period, Stringer noted. An additional 2,681 personal injury claims resulting from potholes and pedestrian falls on defective roadways were settled for $136.3 million during the same period.

The comptroller indicated that the alert gives the DOT a “road map” for making proper repairs well in advance of the winter weather that precipitates the creation of potholes.

“Potholes are serious trouble,” Stringer said in a statement. “They deflate tires, break axles and twist ankles, often at a significant financial cost to the city.”

According to the report, the common settlement for pothole damages to vehicles was $500, with 76 percent of all settlements amounting to $1,000 or less. Queens had a total of 3,590 pothole claims on its streets.

For personal injury claims related to slips, trips and falls on defective roadways, the city paid an average of between $2 and $9 million, with a plurality of them (48 percent) costing $5,000 or less. Only 211 settlements during the period were of $100,000 or greater.

Not surprisingly, pothole and personal injury claims related to defective streets spiked in years when winter weather wreaked havoc on New York City. Higher claims were also reported in areas of the city where the majority of households own a car, including much of eastern and southwest Queens. Sixty-four percent of Queens households, in total, have at least one vehicle.

As with the most recent winter, the DOT went on a “pothole blitz” across the five boroughs whenever the weather was fair enough to allow for emergency street repairs. The city is also experimenting with a different asphalt formula containing rubber which it hopes will prove more durable.

Stringer’s report, however, suggested that the DOT should consider whether some streets particularly prone to potholes should be completely reconstructed. It also called on the city to re-examine its road resurfacing procedures to make sure the best practices are followed.

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Pedestrian fatally struck by car on Belt Parkway


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

A pedestrian walking on the Belt Parkway in Springfield Gardens was hit and killed by a car Saturday morning, according to police.

The accident occurred just after 2 a.m. near Exit 22 (Springfield Boulevard).

According to authorities, the unidentified adult male was walking along the eastbound parkway adjacent to the south side of the concrete median divider when he was struck by a 2003 Nissan Sentra driven by a 21-year-old woman.

Officers from the 105th Precinct found the man lying on the roadway unconscious and unresponsive, with trauma about the body. EMS responding to the scene pronounced him dead at the scene.

No arrests were made and the investigation is ongoing.

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Man dead after losing control of car on Belt Parkway


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


A Rosedale man is dead after losing control of his car while traveling on the Belt Parkway early Sunday morning, according to police.

The NYPD responded to a call at about 3:10 a.m. of an accident near the Belt Parkway and Rockaway Boulevard. Upon arriving to the scene, police determined that 29-year-old Robert Walker was driving his car westbound on the Belt Parkway when he lost control of it and struck a roadway barrier, authorities said.

Walker was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he died a short time later.

The NYPD Collision Investigation Squad was investigating the accident.

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63-year-old man dies trying to cross Belt Parkway


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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A 63-year-old man was killed Friday morning as he was attempting to cross the Belt Parkway near the Van Wyck Expressway, police said.

The man was struck on the roadway, just west of Exit 19, at about 5 a.m.

He was crossing from the south to north side of the parkway when an Acura sedan, which was traveling westbound in the left lane, hit him, police said.

EMS transported the pedestrian to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The sedan’s driver remained on the scene and the investigation is ongoing.

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EXCLUSIVE: $40M Belt Parkway project to benefit Jamaica Bay


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the DEP

Hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage that now overflow into ecologically fragile Jamaica Bay every year will be diverted to treatment plants under a new project being launched by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

A new $40 million initiative split into two smaller projects is set to begin in 2015 in South Ozone Park by the Belt Parkway to reduce sewer overflows into both Bergen and Thurston Basin, two bodies of water that ultimately lead into Jamaica Bay.

City officials said they are taking pains to minimize the impact on traffic along the Belt Parkway from construction of one of the new sewage overflow pipelines that will cross under the highway.

The project is designed to ensure that about 300 million gallons a year of combined sewer overflow will be routed to the Jamaica Wastewater Treatment Plant, where it will be treated to Federal Clean Water Act standards, rather than being discharged untreated into the tributaries of Jamaica Bay.

As of now, there are two 36-inch sewer lines carrying sewer overflow from North Conduit Avenue under the Belt Parkway to 150th Street and 126th Avenue. When they reach that point, they connect to a 72-inch sewer line, ultimately bringing all that overflow to the Jamaica Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The DEP said that due to increased development of southern Queens, the existing pipes “no longer have sufficient capacity to carry combined flow generated north of the Belt Parkway and act as a bottleneck in the area’s drainage system.”

To relieve this issue, one of the small projects, which is slated to start in early 2015 and to be completed in 2017, will be building a new 48-inch interceptor sewer under the Belt Parkway, near the Lefferts Boulevard exit. The sewer is estimated to cost around $29 million and will provide significant additional capacity within the area’s drainage system, which will ultimately reduce overflows into Bergen Basin by approximately 135 million gallons a year.

Photo courtesy of DEP

Photo courtesy of DEP

The other project, set to start in late spring and finish in the summer of 2016, is estimated to cost around $11 million. In that phase, the DEP will install three hydraulic levees at key junctions in the area’s sewer network. During dry days, the levees will remain closed as the system will not need to push out any excess water into the basins. When there is a heavy rainstorm, the levees will be forced down by the pressure of the flow and allow for the water to be drained into the basins.

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This will optimize the carrying capacity of the sewer pipes during rainstorms and reduce sewer overflow into Bergen Basin by about 65 million gallons a year and into Thurston Basin by about 102 million gallons a year.

In order to minimize disruption to traffic on the Belt Parkway during construction, the DEP will be using a microtunnelling machine to install the new sewer line, allowing contractors to do most of their work underground, passing under the highway. The machine will launch from the north side of the Belt Parkway and be retrieved on the southern end.

The DEP has started to deliver the materials to the staging area for the project, which is along the southern side of the Belt Parkway by Lefferts Boulevard.

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

There will be some closures of  lanes in both directions, mostly at night and during weekends. The DEP said that they will be working with the Department of Transportation to notify communities and motorists of any closures.

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New routes proposed in Howard Beach, Ozone Park for Jamaica Bay Greenway


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Howard Beach and Ozone Park will be home to new bike routes on the Jamaica Bay Greenway, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The only problem is figuring out where.

The DOT has been hosting community workshops and asking for the input of residents on where they think the new routes are best for safety and convenience.

Currently, the Greenway is an 11-mile bike path that hugs Jamaica Bay, connecting Brooklyn and Queens.

It runs through Howard Beach, through Broad Channel to the Rockaways and then across the Marine Park Bridge to Brooklyn.

The DOT said there has been strong advocacy by residents for the Greenway to be expanded to Ozone Park to connect to the soccer and baseball fields on Conduit Avenue, across the street from Resorts World Casino.

For this connection, the DOT proposed using 155th Avenue or 156th Avenue.

While it’s looking to add new stretches to the Greenway, the DOT is also hoping to improve existing ones, like the part that connects the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge to the Belt Parkway in Howard Beach.

One is to use 84th Street, a two-way road, instead of the existing paths on 91st Street and 92nd Street, which are both one-way. This would give both cars and cyclists more room on the street, said Alice Friedman, the DOT’s project manager for the Greenway.

The other option would be to add a path where 78th Street meets the Belt Parkway and use the existing grass area along Spring Creek to connect to the Addabbo Bridge.

Finally, there is a plan to build a route through Spring Creek connecting the parkway and the bridge. But Freidman mentioned that would be a long-term plan.

For the path on the Addabbo Bridge, which connects Broad Channel and Howard Beach, the DOT proposed three options:

  • Keep the path the way it exists with one lane on each side of the bridge,
  • Move the parking lane out and let the bike lane hug the sidewalk on both sides, or
  • Put two bike lanes on the south side of the bridge next to each other.

Most people found the last option the most viable for this section but would like to see an actual barrier between the car and bike lanes.

When all community workshop events are finished, the DOT will draft a finalized plan of what it believes it should look like, based on the residents’ input and their own planning.

The DOT expects to have the draft finished by the spring of 2015.

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Two killed, teen injured in Belt Parkway ramp crash


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

ambulance

Updated 2:49 p.m.

Two young men were killed and a 14-year-old was hurt Thursday night after their car lost control near the Belt Parkway before slamming into a pole and then a tree, authorities said.

The vehicle, a Mitsubishi Lancer, was apparently speeding westbound on North Conduit Avenue in Springfield Gardens at about 10:45 p.m. when it swerved to overtake another vehicle, according to police. It then tried to swerve back into the left lane and enter the entrance ramp to the Belt Parkway near 181st Street.

The Mitsubishi lost control, drove onto the grass shoulder, striking a light pole and then a tree, cops said.

The driver, 20-year-old D’John Arias, of Corona, was pronounced dead at the scene. His front seat passenger, 19-year-old Karim Carter, of Jamaica, was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased, authorities said.

A 14-year-old boy suffered injuries to his legs and was transported to Long Island Jewish Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition.

The NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is looking into the crash.

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24-year-old motorcyclist dies in Belt Parkway crash


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

ambulance

A Queens Village man was killed Wednesday in a motorcycle collision on the Belt Parkway, cops said.

Officers discovered 24-year-old Julian Smith lying on the ground in the center lane of the Belt Parkway near the Van Wyck Expressway at about 3:50 a.m., according to police.

He was found unconscious and unresponsive next to his bike, and was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.

The investigation is still ongoing.

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62-year-old dies trying to cross Belt Parkway


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


A Bronx man was struck and killed as he was attempting to cross the Belt Parkway Tuesday night in South Ozone Park, according to police.

The victim, identified as 62-year-old Frank Korowitz, was trying to walk across the roadway near 150th Street around 11 p.m. when he was hit by a Nissan Maxima, cops said.

The Nissan was then struck from behind by an Isuzu Rodeo, according to authorities. Both drivers suffered minor injuries.

Korowitz was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Nissan, Karlmarx Waite, 44, was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle and motor vehicle license violation: no license, police said.

 

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Residents ask for parking lines along Lindenwood streets


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Residents of Lindenwood want parking to be spot on.

More than 100 cars can be parked nose-first adjacent to the Belt Parkway on 157th Avenue between 77th and 80th streets, but that number is often reduced because there are no marked parking spaces.

Street signs tell drivers to back in at a 90 degree angle but since spaces aren’t marked, there are often wide gaps between vehicles too small for parking, which cut down the available space for other drivers.

So residents and politicians are calling for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to draw lines perpendicular to the curb to create defined parking spaces.

“A small effort from the DOT will allow local residents to have more parking spaces to access their neighborhood,” said Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, who wrote a letter to the DOT urging them to do so.

Some residents have received summonses for parking haphazardly along the avenue but feel they are not at fault due to the city’s lack of designated parking spots for them.
“Marked legal parking spots are unclear and people are receiving summonses,” said Joann Ariola, president of the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association. “Redefining the lines will clear up all confusion when parking.”

The DOT is still reviewing Goldfeder’s request and did not have a response for how they would handle this situation.

 

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Bronx-Whitestone Bridge marks 75 years, more than 2 billion vehicles


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo: MTA / Patrick Cashin

The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, which connects Queens to the Bronx, celebrates 75 years Tuesday.

Since opening on April 29, 1939, about 2.2 billion vehicles have crossed the span, the MTA said. Nearly 109,000 vehicles used the bridge on an average weekday last year.

Photo: MTA / Patrick Cashin

“This is a milestone anniversary for the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, which is not only used by commuters and weekend travelers but also serves as an economic engine, providing a crucial link in the transportation of goods in the tri-state area,” MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara said.

The bridge was constructed as a way for drivers from upstate New York to travel to Queens and Long Island without needing to go through Manhattan or central Queens and “became a key factor in the growth of Long Island after World War II,” according to the transit agency.

Photos: MTA Bridges and Tunnels archives

Robert Moses, who as chairman of the Metropolitan Council on Parks, proposed building it as part of his planned Belt Parkway system, and wanted the bridge to open in time for the 1939-1940 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the MTA said.

The project was completed in 23 months and opened the day before the start of the fair, according to the transit agency. At the time of its construction, its 2,300-foot main suspension span was the fourth longest in the world.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, MTA Bridges and Tunnels will host three exhibits featuring historical images from the agency’s special archive. The first exhibit will open June 22 at the Queens Historical Society. Another will open in July at a still-to be-determined Queens venue, and a third exhibit will be held this fall at the Bronx Historical Society.

Here are some figures on the bridge via the MTA:

  • In its first full year of operation, the bridge was used by 6.3 million vehicles. In 2013 it was used by 39.6 million.
  • Total cost of the bridge: $19,657,000
  • Passenger toll when opened: 25-cents; in 2014 E-ZPass $5.33 or $7.50 cash
  • Height of towers above mean high water: 377 feet
  • Width between cables: 74 feet
  • Length of main span: 2,300 feet
  • Number of cables: 2; length of each cable, 3,965 feet.
  • Total number of wires in each cable: 9,862
  • Total length of the cable wires equals 14,800 miles

 

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Woman charged with manslaughter, DWI in Belt Parkway crash


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Updated 2:50 p.m.

A woman has been charged with manslaughter and driving while intoxicated following an accident on the Belt Parkway Monday that left a 29-year-old man dead, cops said.

An Infiniti sedan, driven by 28-year-old Sharlene Numa, of Roosevelt, N.Y., was traveling eastbound down the parkway about 4:15 a.m. when she rear-ended a Mercedes near Springfield Boulevard and Merrick Boulevard, officials said. Her car then overturned around South Conduit Avenue and Brookville Boulevard.

The driver of the Mercedes, an 18-year-old man, was taken to Franklin Hospital in stable condition, according to police. Both occupants of the second vehicle were taken to Jamaica Hospital, where the passenger, 29-year-old Kendall Heard, of Freeport, N.Y., was pronounced dead.

Numa has been charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and DWI, police said.

 

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Two deadly Queens pedestrian accidents within 12 hours


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Two Queens pedestrians lost their lives in separate accidents Tuesday.

The first incident occurred around 12 p.m. when a woman in her 50s was trying to cross the westbound lanes of the Belt Parkway near North Conduit Boulevard and was struck by a motorcycle. She was pronounced dead at the scene and the motorcyclist, a man in his 40s, was taken to Jamaica Hospital in serious condition.

The NYPD Highway Patrol Accident Investigation Squad is investigating the accident.

Later the same day, around 11:15 p.m., a Chevy Avalanche hit and killed a 22-year-old woman as she was attempting to cross the intersection of 47th Street and Laurel Hill Boulevard. She was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The operator of the vehicle remained on the scene and the investigation is ongoing.

 

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Arrest in connection to bodies found in Howard Beach brush fire


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

A Brooklyn man was arrested in connection to the two bodies found in a brush fire in the Spring Park Preserve last week, authorities have announced.

Rogelio Rodriguez, 34, was charged on Tuesday, March 12 with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence.

According to the Queens District Attorney’s Office, Rodriguez is only one of four men involved in the brutal homicide of 22-year-old Rudy Superville and 25-year-old Gary Lopez, both of Brooklyn.

“The defendant is accused of participating in the brutal murder of two men whose bodies were dumped and intentionally set on fire in an attempt to cover up the alleged crime,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

The two men’s bodies were discovered after firefighters put out a blaze around 4:15 a.m. on Wednesday, March 6 near the Belt Parkway in Howard Beach. The medical examiner later determined that both victims had been shot several times and had blunt force trauma to the head. Superville had also been stabbed.

A day earlier, inside Rodriguez’s 143 Grove Street residence, he allegedly struck the two victims with a gun and kicked them after they had already been shot by one of the unapprehended suspect. Lopez was shot again by another one of the apprehended suspects, then struck by a third. It’s believed that Superville was also stabbed during that time.

The men may have been killed after a botched drug robbery, according to reports.

In an apparent attempt to cover up the crime, a day after the bodies were dumped, Rodriguez went to Newton Creek in Maspeth and threw seven firearms, including the two of the guns involved in the homicides, into the water.

If convicted, Rodriguez faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

 

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