Tag Archives: Department of Transportation

Public transit advocates expand coalition for express bus service in Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Updated March 3, 1 p.m. 

With express bus service set to be created on routes between Flushing and Jamaica and along Woodhaven Boulevard this year, a coalition of public transit advocates backing the plan is expanding its efforts to win the hearts and minds of Queens community members.

As the city moves ahead with plans to create what’s known as Select Bus Service, the Department of Transportation is holding workshops to gather input from community members living in areas that would be affected by the new bus service. Often these meetings are attended by an overwhelming majority of people who are opposed to Select Bus Service.

But a coalition of transit advocates – BRT  for NYC — recently enlisted interest groups like New York Immigration Coalition to help raise awareness in communities that would benefit from faster bus travel times. They ultimately want to influence the city’s plans to speed up travel time for commuters who depend on buses.

“People who are afraid of this are going to fight harder than people who will benefit from it,” said Joan Byron, a member of the Pratt Center, which is part of the growing coalition.

During a meeting at Kew Gardens Hills last year, city officials were barraged by people opposed to any express bus service plans that would have taken away a lane of traffic from motorists and restricted it to buses only.

“You are wrecking our neighborhoods,” one woman said to a city official during the 2014 meeting. “You’re all morons. We do not want this.”

The community members worried that the city would remove a traffic lane on Main Street to allow express buses to whiz past rush hour traffic. But for Kew Gardens Hills residents, traffic lanes were more important than fast buses.

During a City Council hearing in February, transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the Q44 would be transformed into a Select Bus Service that will cut travel time, much like those that have already been created in Manhattan and Staten Island.

Plans for the Q44, which runs mostly along Main Street, include off-board fare collection, traffic lights that will stay green for buses and general infrastructure upgrades. The city also plans to create an express bus service called Bus Rapid Transit along Woodhaven Boulevard.

The coalition has enlisted 10 new groups to help what they, according to Byron, see as underprivileged communities living in areas that don’t have train access and have very limited bus access.

But with some of these new enlisted groups, like the Alliance for a Greater New York, Jess Nizar from Riders Alliance and others hope the pro-Select Bus Service side will get a boost with political influence.

“Without having a coalition these plans won’t reflect the needs of the people that need this the most,” Nizar said. “Sure, the city said they’re going to create SBS, but we don’t know what it will look like yet and we want people who benefit from this to give the city their input.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens is the borough with the most roads and the most potholes


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queens isn’t just the “World’s Borough.” It’s also the borough with the city’s most tire-wrecking potholes — a total of 20,000 that have been filled by city crews so far in 2015.

“Queens has the largest share of roads out of the five boroughs so that only makes sense,”  Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said of the pothole problem.

With severe winter weather, roads take a beating and inevitably develop potholes. And so the city’s transportation department is fighting a perpetual battle with limited resources. On a recent Tuesday there were 12 crews out citywide fixing pock-marked streets.

Last year, the city filled almost 500,000 potholes and 131,000 of those fixed were in Queens.  And this year 20,000 potholes were filled in Queens, almost half of all citywide jobs to date.

With over 2,000 miles of roadway, the most of any borough, the number of potholes in the road is higher than in other boroughs, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation pointed out. The transportation department had filled a similar number of potholes this time last year.

At the time, it was the “most potholes ever filled at this point of the year in the history of New York City,” according to a then newly-elected Mayor de Blasio, who visited Maspeth last year to fill some holes.

Pothole season typically starts by February and dies down by April, though the timeline is dependent on weather, experts say. And while most potholes are just a nuisance, they can sometimes be a threat in neighborhoods like Hamilton Beach, where the neighborhood’s main road resembles the surface of the moon, causing traffic jams and dangerous conditions for pedestrians.

“This is a constant priority for us,” Trottenberg said of the pothole repair program.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

City focuses on reducing pedestrian deaths in Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

City officials have chosen Queens to launch the first borough-wide traffic safety crackdown in the city as part of a long-range effort to reduce the number of deaths from auto accidents, police and transportation officials announced at a press conference in Jamaica on Tuesday.

“We launched Vision Zero in Queens a year ago, and today we proudly return to the world’s borough to release the first of our five groundbreaking Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plans,” said transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

“These Borough Plans combine cutting-edge data analysis and community input from thousands of New Yorkers in all five boroughs. They will help the city target its engineering, enforcement and education efforts to make New York’s streets the safest in the world.”

The announcement was made at P.S. 82, near the intersection of Metropolitan and Hillside avenues, a “priority corridor” slated for a major redesign because of historically high rates of deaths and serious injuries.

On average, 43 people in Queens have died every year since 2011, according to data compiled by the city, and most of these deaths occurred in Flushing, Elmhurst and Jamaica, where there is a high concentration of car and foot traffic.

By focusing on intersections and areas in Queens with the highest number pedestrian deaths, the Department of Transportation identified 72 intersections and 47 corridors that pose the most danger to people and where the highest percentage of car-related deaths have taken place.

Trottenberg and other officials outlined a series of initiatives that will take two years and, the city hopes, will bring down the average number of pedestrian deaths and injuries in Queens. The initiative is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero.

The city, among other things, wants to increase pedestrian crossing times at crosswalks for areas like Northern Boulevard between Queens Plaza and 114th Street; change traffic signals so that they deter people from driving fast on large boulevards that Queens is known for; increase the amount of light in dark underpasses; and expand the bicycle lanes and network.

Cops will also take a tougher line on speeding hot spots identified by the city.

“We’re going to concentrate our enforcement efforts in these areas,” said NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan. “We’re going to do our best to reduce the number of traffic fatalities.”

These plans are the results of years of preparation by the transportation department and community input received during workshops over the last year.

The press conference was also attended by local politicians whose areas included some of the dangerous areas.

“I appreciate all the effort that the administration is putting into safety,” Councilman Rory Lancman said. “This is going to make a real difference with people I represent.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

City plans to launch express bus service between Flushing and Jamaica this year


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A planned express bus service that will run between Flushing and Jamaica is set to launch this year, according to city officials, who have included some measures to appease several communities that resisted the idea of designating lanes for buses only.

“Flushing and Jamaica are two of our key commercial centers, but traveling between them by subway means going in towards Manhattan and doubling back – and forget making the trip from the Bronx on the subway,” said Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT). “There are many destinations along this route not served by the subway system, such as Queens College and other key locations in the Bronx.”

During a City Council hearing on the citywide expansion of express buses, also called Select Bus Service, Trottenberg laid out a timeline to create a bus line that would connect the downtown areas of Flushing and Jamaica. She also said that in areas between the two destinations, bus-only lanes wouldn’t be created, respecting the wishes of many community members in areas like Kew Gardens Hills.

But Mike Sidell, a Kew Gardens Hills resident and community activist, remains skeptical because Trottenberg did not specify which communities would be spared the bus lane.

“We should hold them to the fire and get them to name all of the communities that won’t have the bus-only lanes,” Sidell said. “It looks like they’re giving us lip service, but it worries me that [Trottenberg] didn’t specifically name Kew Gardens Hills.”

Exclusive bus lanes are a common element of express bus lines, but residents in communities that live between Flushing and Jamaica resisted this idea because they feared it would create traffic back-ups by squeezing all the other traffic into only one lane.

The city appears to have responded to these residents by suggesting that bus-only lanes will be limited to areas where they are most needed, like the congested downtown Flushing area.

“Downtown Flushing and Jamaica are very different than places in between those neighborhoods,” Trottenberg said. “We’re going to have a long period of community engagement.”

The city plans to transform the Q44 into a Select Bus Service that will cut travel time, much like those that have already been created in Manhattan and Staten Island. Plans for the Q44, which runs mainly along Main Street, include off-board fare collection, traffic lights that will stay green for buses and general infrastructure upgrades.

The City Council hearing was held for testimony over a proposed bill that would require the DOT to develop a network of express buses that would stretch across the city and connect neighborhoods that have limited or no access to subways. The DOT already initiated express bus service plans on several routes, including Woodhaven Boulevard. And the hearing came soon after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed for the expansion of express buses in his State of the City address.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

First safety workshop held for Queens Boulevard


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Community officials, residents, family members of traffic accident victims and survivors got the chance Wednesday night to give their input on putting an end to fatal crashes on the “Boulevard of Death.”

The Department of Transportation held the first Queens Boulevard Safety Workshop at P.S. 11 in Woodside to discuss the future of a stretch of the busy thoroughfare between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street.

The agency said it decided to focus on this section first because statistics show there have been six fatalities since 2009 in that particular area. Last year, the speed limit on Queens Boulevard was lowered to 25 mph as part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative.

“The Mayor made it clear that improving Queens Boulevard is a priority and so Wednesday night NYCDOT will host a safety workshop to hear the community’s concerns and ideas,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “That workshop is only the first step in a more comprehensive process to reimagine and redesign the boulevard as a safer, greener, more attractive corridor for residents and businesses.”

During the workshop, over 100 members of the public were able to sit down with DOT facilitators in groups at several tables in the school’s cafeteria. The agency’s representatives then went over the options for improvements that can be done on the thoroughfare and asked that each person draw on a map of Queens Boulevard, provided at each table, any suggestions they have.

Among those present were members of Families for Safe Streets, made up of a group of family members of victims of traffic accidents and survivors.

“We’re really asking for them to take a really bold stand and do a complete redesign of Queens Boulevard,” said Ellen Foote, a member of Families for Safe Streets whose 27-year-old son was killed while riding his bicycle home. “We want to turn the ‘Boulevard of Death’ to the ‘Boulevard of Life.’”

Foote added that with the popularity of Queens increasing, she sees Queens Boulevard as the place to start making changes. She urged the DOT to take the community’s input and statistics and come up with a plan.

“We should make it a model not just for New York City, but the world,” Foote said.

Among the suggestions voiced by the public were creating protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes, making street medians longer and wider, adding street regulations to reduce speeding, and increasing the amount of time to cross Queens Boulevard.

Ralph Munoz, a Kew Gardens resident who lost both his mother and brother to traffic accidents, in separate incidents, sees the workshops as positive moves to making the streets safer. He added that he sees many cars speeding near where he lives.

“The [speed limit] law is new. People need to learn. It takes time. But if people want to do it, they can be a very responsible driver. People just need to be more responsible with their car,” Munoz said. “It’s a discipline and it’s a change to keep people safe.”

Munoz is a new member of Families for Safe Streets and says he plans to attend future workshops for Queens Boulevard, especially for the stretch of the strip near where he lives.

“It’s good to be involved and helping with this type of thing because you don’t want other families to go through this,” Munoz said.

The DOT will now take the input from the workshop and use it to come up with recommendations for Queens Boulevard. There are also plans for future workshops for the road.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

New decorative lampposts to light the streets of Glendale


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of state Sen. Joe Addabbo

The streets of Glendale are going to shine brighter thanks to new decorative lampposts that will be installed soon.

The residents of Glendale have been waiting for the new lighting for over a decade since former state Sen. Serphin Maltese began the initiative. The Department of Transportation (DOT) just approved the project, known as the Parkside Decorative Street Lighting Project, after a recent meeting with state Sen. Joe Addabbo.

“When I inherited this project after taking office, I knew we had to see it through,” Addabbo said. “Our city streets are a constant reminder of our history, but sometimes they need a little upgrade. These decorative lights will greatly improve the décor of the neighborhood as well as increase residents’ safety, thanks to the improved lighting.”

The new lampposts will be installed in the spring of 2015. When Addabbo took office he said he knew of the project and secured the funding for it while meeting with the DOT.

The project will ultimately see “teardrop-style” lampposts installed on Dovan, Rutledge, Aubrey, 74th and 75th avenues between Woodhaven Boulevard and Union Turnpike. Some, but not all, existing streetlights will be removed and replaced with “Type F” lampposts with 150 LED luminaire lighting. Before replacing the post, the foundation will be modified.

Screen-Shot-2014-12-30-at-4.08.34-PM

Similar lampposts can be seen on 80th Street just past 73rd Place along Metropolitan Avenue.

Addabbo is excited to see this project finally coming to fruition.

“Not only will the new lighting be pleasing to look at, it will be pleasing to feel safe under the bright lights after dark,” he said. “Though of course we must continue to be aware of our surroundings, these new streetlights can bring a sense of ease to my constituents. I thank everyone who requested the new lighting, Serf for his work in office and the Department of Transportation for seeing the project through.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

DOT launches annual ‘Bike to School’ competition


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of East-West School of International Studies

The wheels have started turning as local schools compete to be part of a Department of Transportation (DOT) program promoting safe bicycling and active transportation alternatives.

The third annual Bike to School competition, launched by the DOT on Tuesday, is a curriculum-driven program with the mission of promoting bicycle riding as a fast, safe and healthy way to get around.

All middle and high schools in the five boroughs can apply, and five schools will be chosen to participate in the 2015 Bike to School program. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 7, 2015.

“Cycling is a great way for young New Yorkers to be active, explore their neighborhood, grow independently, and develop street safety habits,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “I am pleased to bring a program to the city’s youth to encourage cycling as a great mode of transportation.”

The three-year program began in 2010 after the DOT collaborated with Bike New York to host the first Bike to School Day ride with M.S. 51 in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

During the first year, the chosen schools are given a “starter kit” with curriculum material, technical assistance to identify safer routes, the installation of bike racks and other DOT support. Bike New York and Recycle-a-Bicycle, partner organizations in the program, will offer extra services, such as safe riding assemblies, learn-to-ride training and bike maintenance classes. 

In the second year, the schools will then move to operate the program individually, with the DOT continuing classroom curriculum and organizing events. 

For the final year, each of the five schools will be responsible for the in-class curriculum and will organize separate celebratory bike parades, marking the completion of the program. 

“This program helps our students develop healthy and safe habits, and I am excited to see more schools and students from across the city take advantage of it,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said. “The Bike to School program offers our children a chance to learn important and useful skills like bike safety and maintenance, as well as explore and celebrate their community.”

Six schools have previously been part of the Bike to School program including Flushing’s East-West School of International Studies.

To apply for the Bike to School program and for more information, visit www.nyc.gov/biketoschool.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Changes coming to controversial Ozone Park pedestrian plaza


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

controversial pedestrian plaza in Ozone Park will be downsized following complaints from local business owners.

Due to community outreach programs to address the concerns of the plaza, which is located on Drew Street and 101st Avenue, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is removing a portion of the plaza to restore metered parking along the block, a DOT spokeswoman said.

The plaza was installed about a year ago and is run and maintained by the Brooklyn based nonprofit Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS). Once in place, it took up about nine parking spaces and cut off two-way traffic on 101st Avenue.

But giving back the parking spots is fine with Darma Diaz, the chief operating officer at BACDYS, if it makes for a more positive working relationship with the store merchants.

“We want this to be a positive part of the community,” Diaz said. “Of course you want more space, but we are more about having peace with the community.”

Business owners have complained that since it was installed, their businesses have had one of the worst years ever.

“This plaza has totally crippled my business,” said Ahmad Ubayda, owner of the 99 Cent Ozone Park Discount Hardware store on the corner of the block, back in July when The Courier first reported on it. “This has been my worst year of business because they took away parking spaces for my customers but aren’t even using [that area of the plaza].”

The portion of the plaza along 101st Avenue that the DOT will be removing is the least used part of it. Most of the tables, chairs and umbrellas are not put in that area, but are placed on Drew Street, where it once crossed over from 101st Avenue to Liberty Avenue.

plaza

But some stores still want the whole plaza removed because they feel the two-way traffic is necessary.

“I won’t be happy unless the whole thing is gone,” said one worker at the 99 cent store. “We need two-way traffic again.”

The removal of the portion of the plaza along 101st Avenue will take place by the end of the year, weather permitting, according to the DOT spokeswoman.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Slow zones rolling into Sunnyside


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Just days before the citywide speed limit will be decreased to 25 mph, the Sunnyside community celebrated the news that it will soon be home to two new slow zones.

The slow zones, which will be launched in Sunnyside Gardens, Woodside and Sunnyside, were designed through input from the community, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Community Board 2 (CB 2).

“There’s nothing more important than keeping our children safe,” Van Bramer said during the announcement on Monday afternoon in front of P.S. 199 in Sunnyside. “The single most important thing for the parents in our district is keeping traffic slow, calm, manageable and keeping their children safe.”

As part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, the neighborhoods that will be included in these two slow zones were selected based on the transportation agency’s evaluation on crash history, traffic fatalities, community support, and the closeness of schools, senior centers and day care centers.

Slow zones are marked with high-visibility blue signs that warn drivers at all streets entering the zones. Each area has a speed limit of 20 mph and includes speed bumps and eight-foot-high letters on the road that read “20 MPH.”

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has already started to set up the Sunnyside Slow Zone, which is expected to be completed before the end of the year. The borders will be 36th Street, Queens Boulevard, 51st Street and part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The area is split diagonally by Greenpoint Avenue, which is not part of the slow zone, according to the DOT.

Since 2007 there have been four fatalities in the proposed zone and, since 2008, there have been three severe pedestrian injuries and five severe injuries involving vehicle occupants.

The Sunnyside Slow Zone, which covers an area with four schools including P.S. 199, will be made up of 20 speed bumps, in addition to the current eight bumps, and 31 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

“One thing we have in our community is a lot of traffic. We have a lot of traffic that comes through our neighborhood very fast so this is what it’s about. It’s about saving lives and about improving the quality of our life in the community,” said Joseph Conley, chair of CB 2.

The Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside Slow Zone, which DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall said would begin to be implemented in spring 2015, will be bordered by 43rd Street, 38th Avenue, Barnett Avenue, 58th Street, Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. There are three schools and three daycare/pre-K centers in the area.

According to the DOT, since 2007 there has been one death in the zone and three severe pedestrian injuries.

This slow zone was proposed to include 18 speed bumps, added to the already existing 12 bumps, and 19 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

“We are committed to Vision Zero, and Vision Zero starts with our children. It starts with young people. We have to make sure that not one young person ever loses their life on the streets of New York,” Van Bramer said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Citi Bike finally coming to Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

The city’s first bike share program will soon become a reality in Queens.

Long Island City and Astoria are part of a list of neighborhoods in the city that will receive Citi Bike docking stations in upcoming years, officials announced on Tuesday.

The news came as former MTA chairman and CEO Jay Walder was named the incoming CEO of Alta Bicycle Share, the operator of Citi Bike. Alta was recently bought by investment firm REQX Ventures, according to published reports.

“Even as we are enhancing and improving our system we will expand it as well, we will double the number of bikes and we will bring them to new neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens,” Walder said.

As part of the announcement, the Department of Transportation (DOT), Alta and Citi said the bike share system would expand from 330 stations and 6,000 bicycles to more than 700 stations and 12,000 bikes by the end of 2017.

Along with expanding the bike share program, Citi Bike will also overhaul every bicycle in the system, fix every existing docking station and enhance the technology used in the program.

“Anyone who uses Citi Bike regularly knows that it should be more reliable, it should be easier to use and it should be accessible to more of the city,” Walder said. “In short, Citi Bike has the potential to be so much more and today we are committing to make that potential a reality.”

While being committed to improving the service, the price rates for annual membership will jump from $95 to $149.

Although the locations of stations in western Queens have yet to be announced, local elected officials are excited that Queens will finally become a part of the Citi Bike Share program.

“Once and for all the blue bikes are in Queens,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “There is no such thing as a citywide program that does not include the great borough of Queens.”

State Sen. Michael Gianaris worked with DOT last year to include Astoria in the Citi Bike plans. There are also plans to include other parts of Queens in the future, according to officials.

Last November the DOT started the process of bringing the bike share program to the western Queens neighborhoods by getting community input from Community Boards 1 and 2.

Now the agency will go back to working with the community to reassess the recommended sites for stations and see if any have changed.

“We want these blue bikes here as soon as possible because people are going to be able to experience Queens in a way that they haven’t, see our cultural institutions, shop at our restaurants, explore the wonders of the waterfront and folks from here are going to be able to have another opportunity to get around,” Van Bramer said.

Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted last May, but was pushed back after equipment damages from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Second Sunnyside pedestrian plaza officially opens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Sunnyside residents will now have more room to get together and enjoy the outdoors.

The second of two new pedestrian plazas opened in the neighborhood Friday afternoon at the intersection of 40th Street and Queens Boulevard, under the elevated No. 7 train.

Transformed from an underutilized underpass, the plaza includes tables, chairs and decorative plants. It was named Lowery Plaza after 40th Street’s original name, Lowery Street.

“The opening of Lowery Plaza is great news for Sunnyside residents,” Department of Transportation Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall said. “This new local destination will significantly improve the life of residents and the vitality of local businesses in Sunnyside and Queens.”

The plaza is part of the DOT’s NYC Plaza Program and will be managed by the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District.

Local elected officials, leaders and business owners cut the ribbon opening Lowery Plaza.

Local elected officials, leaders and business owners cut the ribbon opening Lowery Plaza.

“This is something that the community is starving for, more open space and more space to come together as a community,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “The opening of this plaza on 40th Street, just like Bliss Plaza on 46th Street, is a sign of Sunnyside’s continued growth as a destination neighborhood for New Yorkers.”

In July, Bliss Plaza opened at the intersection of 46th Street and Queens Boulevard. The site also includes tables, chairs and planters. This project included leveling out a street to create a one-level pedestrian area

“We have received such positive feedback from community members and business owners about the success of Bliss Plaza, and I’m delighted to replicate this success at Lowery Plaza,” said Rachel Thieme, Sunnyside Shines BID executive director. “The plazas are fantastic neighborhood amenities and true gathering places in Sunnyside.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Real estate roundup: Inside the Hallets Point deal, what’s with the new structure on Parsons Boulevard?


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Equities Group, LLC

Anatomy of a deal: Inside Durst’s complex Hallets Point play

The Durst Organization is projected to spend about $130 million to acquire three parcels where it plans to build a massive $1.5 billion residential and commercial development known as Hallets Point in Western Queens, several sources told The Real Deal.” Read more [The Real Deal]

What’s it going to be?

“This construction site, 75-43 Parsons Boulevard is owned by Great Neck-based developer Mayflower Enterprise LLC. It posted two renderings on the construction wall. One shows a beautiful brick structure with a church bell tower on the corner. The yellowish rendering to the left, however, shows a boring two-story commercial structure without any architectural flair.” Read more [Queens Crap]

Brainstorm About the Future of Diversity Plaza in ‘Visioning Session’

“Officials are hosting a visioning session to discuss the future of Diversity Plaza. The Department of Transportation is set to host the meeting on Saturday, Oct. 18 at P.S. 69 at 77-02 37th Ave., starting at 2 p.m.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Artist, volunteers beautify pedestrian walkway that connects Woodside and Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

One busy overpass filled with traffic from pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles has received a stroke of color.

The overpass’s pedestrian walkway, located at 37th Avenue and 69th Street, connecting Woodside and Jackson Heights, and above the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, was painted on Friday as part of the Department of Transportation’s Barrier Beautification program.

According to Emily Colasacco, director of the DOT Public Art Program, the site was chosen because recently one lane of traffic was transformed into a pedestrian safety area to connect the sidewalks on both sides of the overpass.

“The goal was to really beautify the space and call attention to this new pedestrian safety refuge,” Colasacco said. “We’re always looking for simple designs, bold colors and something that is really going to pop off the barrier, something noticeable from afar.”

Artist Eirini Linardaki, alongside volunteers from the organization New York Cares, worked from the morning into the afternoon painting the 150-foot concrete barrier of the walkway blue, red, yellow and white.

“It starts off as a concrete slab and by the end of the day it’s this beautiful mural,” Colasacco said.

DSC_0797

The painters implemented Linardaki’s design, called “Composition in blue, yellow and red – homage to Piet Mondrian,” which depicts the game of pick-up sticks.

“I just wanted to use a game, I wanted to use something that is fun and could be interpreted in so many ways,” said Linardaki, who has been involved in public art projects for the past five years in New York City, France and Greece. “You want to create involvement and awareness, you want to allow people to be in contact with art and there’s no better way than public art.”

Along with depicting what Linardaki called a “retro” game, she said she hopes for it to be seen as an abstract art or as a New York City grid.

“I like the fact that people don’t know that it’s here; people are going to discover it when they’re passing by,” Linardaki said. “I do a lot of public art projects, because first of all it’s so direct and sometimes it draws people’s attention to spots they were not going to look at. It gives them a different perspective of their city.”

Barrier Beautification projects are temporary and Linardaki’s piece will be up for one year. The DOT will then revisit the site and decide what other art pieces can be implemented.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Grand Street Bridge to be closed for construction on three Saturdays


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

The Grand Street Bridge, linking Maspeth and Brooklyn, will be closed for parts of three consecutive Saturdays for much needed repair work, the Department of Transportation (DOT) said.

The DOT will be closing the bridge on Oct. 4, 11 and 18 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. to strengthen the deck gratings and replace the pedestrian path.

During that time motorists can use Metropolitan Avenue as an alternate route.

These repairs are not part of the DOT’s plan to replace the decrepit bridge entirely. It expects those plans to be finished by 2016.

But the DOT had promised to make short-term repairs to keep the bridge stabilized while plans are being drawn up.

“The agency continues to monitor the structure and make any necessary short-term repairs prior to the start of this project,” a DOT spokeswoman said in June. “DOT will also continue to update local stakeholders, including the community boards, on any temporary closures required for repair work.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Trucks plague Grand Avenue, ruining quality of life, locals say


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

There are still a truckload of problems in Maspeth.

Grand Avenue, a main artery that runs through Maspeth connecting Brooklyn to Queens, is used daily by many trucks and tractor-trailers as a thoroughfare between the boroughs.

The problem is the decades-old practice is illegal for most trucks, which continue to traverse the roadway despite an alternate truck route established by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Trucks hurtling down Grand Avenue are hurting businesses and the quality of life in the neighborhood, said Anthony Nunziato, a resident of Maspeth and the owner of a Grand Avenue business.
“These trucks coming through cause numerous amounts of problems for us,” Nunziato said. “People are afraid to cross the street, traffic is constantly backed up, there is unnecessary noise and truck fumes are all over. It’s a real quality-of-life problem.”

Back in 2007, the DOT, along with Community Board 5, devised an alternate truck route named the Maspeth Bypass to alleviate this problem. The route, implemented in 2011, gives trucks and tractor-trailers a Brooklyn-Queens route that avoids Grand Avenue except for local deliveries.

Nunziato, who has owned Enchanted Florist on Grand Avenue for more than 28 years, said the restrictions are rarely enforced, which is why the trucks are still an outstanding issue.

“All we want is enforcement,” he said. “The alternate route was put in for a reason. There has to be something done.”

Moreover, 53-foot-long tractor-trailers, which must follow a strict traffic pattern when traveling in the city and may not make any pick-ups or deliveries when there, according to state law, roll down the avenue daily in apparent violation of state law, Nunziato said.

When asked about the enforcement of the illegal trucks on Grand Avenue, the DOT referred the question to the NYPD.

The 104th Precinct said they conduct enforcement with the state Department of Transportation, which will, after a request, set up a temporary weighing station to check for illegal trucks.

The NYPD’s official press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Nunziato fears that as the trucks continue to rumble down the avenue, he will start to lose business.
“I have customers telling me all the time that it’s too dangerous to come down Grand or that there’s always too much traffic,” Nunziato said. “The bad part about it is that we actually devised another path for the trucks to use and it is just being ignored.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES