Tag Archives: Department of Transportation

Woodside intersection, prone to accidents, gets new traffic safety measures


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Woodside residents are showing that with determination and perseverance, changes can be made to prevent tragedies from occurring.

Civic activists, students from P.S. 11 and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer gathered on Monday morning at the corner of 51st Street and Skillman Avenue to announce the installation of a new traffic signal at the intersection.

“We’re here today to celebrate a huge victory, a monumental victory for this community because it’s the small things that really matter in the daily lives of everyday people and that stop light has been something we have all worked for for years,” Van Bramer said.

The call for the stop light came after a pedestrian was hit at the intersection and community members including Arthur Ferguson, who started a petition that gathered 265 signatures, and Van Bramer reached out to the Department of Transportation.

“This stop light is a great victory and a great sign of what a community can do to make its streets safer,” Van Bramer said. “This would not have happened without a communitywide effort and never giving up because we heard no several times but we knew that this stop light was needed. We knew that it was too dangerous.”

Ali Mamun, who has owned Woodside Super Convenient at 51-01 Skillman Ave. for 20 years, said that he has seen numerous vehicle collisions at the intersection and down Skillman Avenue, so he hopes the new light will help prevent any future accidents.

“It’s excellent,” Mamun said about the traffic signal installation. “We are so happy for it. Hopefully the light will help everyone now.”

Along with the installation of the traffic signal, a slow zone is in the process of being implemented in the Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside neighborhood. It is expected to be completed by the end of the spring.

The parameters of the slow zone are Queens Boulevard/Roosevelt Avenue as the southern border, 43rd Street as the western border, 58th Street to the east and 38th Avenue/Barnett Avenue to the north.

“Our students walk back and forth to school and it’s a safer neighborhood now. It just became so much better,” said Elizabeth Pena-Jorge, principal at P.S. 11, located just blocks away from the intersection. “Woodside, and Sunnyside, just became a better place.”

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Design workshops scheduled for Woodhaven/Cross Bay Select Bus Service plan


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC DOT

The city Department of Transportation (DOT) will hold the first of four public design workshops for the planned Woodhaven/Cross Bay boulevards Select Bus Service (SBS) system next Thursday night in Woodhaven.

All are invited to attend the April 16 workshop at P.S. 306 NYC Academy for Discovery, located at 96-16 89th Ave. This workshop will focus solely on redesigning the portion of Woodhaven Boulevard between Union Turnpike in Glendale and Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park.

The following week, April 23, the DOT will hold a workshop at Queens Metropolitan High School, located at 91-30 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills, focused on Woodhaven Boulevard between Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst and Union Turnpike.

An April 29 workshop at P.S. 146, located at 98-01 159th Ave. in Howard Beach, will center around Cross Bay Boulevard, and an April 30 workshop at P.S. 42, located at 488 Beach 66th St. in Arverne, will focus on implementing SBS in the Rockaways.

All of the workshops will take place from 6 to 8 p.m.

Representatives from the DOT will collect at each session “block-by-block feedback on street design and bus stop locations” for the Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS. Last month, the DOT selected an SBS design that would include dedicated main-road bus lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard and offset bus lanes on Cross Bay Boulevard.

The plan, which requires the physical reconfiguration of Woodhaven Boulevard, also calls for the creation of SBS stations at major roadways that intersect the boulevard, such as Metropolitan and Jamaica avenues.

While each workshop focuses on a specific section, the DOT indicated that comments on any or all parts of the proposed SBS system will be accepted at all four sessions. Translation services are available and may be reserved in advance of the workshop by emailing brt@nyc.gov.

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Historic Highland Park bridge to get makeover


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Plans for the rehabilitation of the historic stone bridge in Highland Park headlined the Community Board 5 Parks Services Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Joannene Kidder, the chief staff manager and director of community affairs for the city Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Division of Bridges, gave a presentation on the proposed plans for restoring the pedestrian span located on the Brooklyn-Queens border.

Kidder explained that the DOT, rather than the Parks Department, is involved with this project because the DOT is better equipped to perform bridge inspections and maintenance.

The presentation highlighted defects on the underside of the bridge including spalling (the fragmenting and flaking of the concrete of the bridge); cracking of bricks; efflorescence (a powdery substance that forms when brick and mortar are exposed to moist conditions); and graffiti and painting.

“Essentially what we’re doing is we’re going to take the entire superstructure down and reconstruct it from there up,” Kidder said of the proposed improvements to the bridge. “The substructure is in good condition, so we’re not expecting to do an entire reconstruction from under the ground up.”

The bridge is set to receive a lightweight, reinforced concrete slab on the top side of the archway as well as waterproofing. The DOT will clean the surfaces of the bridge; replace any missing stones in the structure; refill and repaint any missing mortar to match the existing mortar; and pressure wash all graffiti off of the bridge, while adding graffiti-proof surfaces.

The surrounding area of the bridge is also getting upgrades. The streetlights will be replaced with LED fixtures; under-deck lighting will be added; and an 8-foot-wide gravel path will be installed underneath the bridge’s arch. Additionally, crews will install curbs and re-grading for drainage and erosion control, and add more than 80 trees and shrubs to the landscape near the bridge.

Board members questioned why the path was being made of gravel and not asphalt.

“When you install asphalt, now you have an impervious surface that now has runoff and that drainage has to be accommodated somewhere,” Kidder said. “With the gravel, all the rainwater, all the stuff will just percolate back into the soil. They want as few impervious surfaces as possible inside parks.”

The contract for the project will be put out to bid this summer, and construction is planned for the fall. Work is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016.

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First phase of $100M Queens Boulevard redesign to be implemented by August


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of the Department of Transportation

The voices of a concerned community have been heard, and by August, the first segment of the redesign of what is known as the “Boulevard of Death” is expected to be implemented to make it safer.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Tuesday that it would be releasing a detailed preliminary plan to redesign a 1.3-mile portion of Queens Boulevard. The plan is based on community input gathered during a safety workshop held on Jan. 22 in Woodside.

This project, which will be reviewed by Community Board 2 and is expected to be implemented in August, launches the start of the DOT’s $100 million Green Streets initiative, which will cover all seven miles of Queens Boulevard.

The agency plans to hold more public workshops during the fall and winter for the future phases of the initiative, from 73rd Street to Eliot Avenue and from Eliot Avenue to Union Turnpike.

“After decades of crashes, many of them fatal, this corridor has been reimagined and will be redesigned to become a safer, greener and more attractive corridor for residents and businesses, suitable to traverse through the World’s Borough,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

The first phase of the redesign, which includes the installation of a protected bike lane, covers the 1.3-mile stretch of the thoroughfare between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street.

The agency previously said it decided to focus on this section first because statistics showed there have been six fatalities since 2009 in that particular area.

Some of the features of the first redesign segment include safer crossings, increased pedestrian space and improved intersections. The preliminary plan also looks to calm the traffic on service roads and try to reduce the number of times drivers move between the main line and service roads.

Unique redesigns include a protected bike lane integrated into a widened service road median, with new pedestrian space and median-to-median crossings that “allow for a linear park-like experience,” according to the DOT.

“This work represented a major advancement in the efforts to achieve Vision Zero throughout our city,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “Thanks to the work of the DOT, we are seeing significant improvements in traffic safety in western Queens, and we look forward to seeing Queens Boulevard safety improvements thanks to this $100 million capital investment.”

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DOT proposes expanding bike network in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Gear up for round two of bike lane construction in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village.

Aaron Fraint, project manager with NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) bicycle program, presented three options for a second phase of bike lane creation to the Community Board 5 Transportation Committee members on March 24.

All three options focused on creating a network of lanes.

“We would like to do a set of streets that all connect to each other because we see the bike network as just that, a network, rather than sets of routes that aren’t connected to anything,” Fraint said.

The first option would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park through Middle Village via Metropolitan Avenue, 69th Street and Eliot Avenue ending on Woodhaven Boulevard.

“Metropolitan Avenue is very busy corridor…with a lot of commercial and industrial activity,” Fraint said, which is why creating safe bike lanes is so important.

The avenue is also 41 feet wide, which allows just enough room for a shared bike lane in both directions.

The DOT proposed using “sharrows,” symbols with a green background that notify motorists that bicyclists may be present.

Option two connects Glendale to Rego Park through Middle Village by using Central Avenue connecting to Cooper Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard, with a north/south route on 80th Street turning into Dry Harbor Road and 63rd Avenue, ending on Woodhaven Boulevard.

Fraint said that both Central and Cooper avenues — which are 40 feet wide — have enough space for 12-foot-wide shared lanes in both directions with 8-foot parking lanes.

Cooper Avenue already has a shared bike lane on the extra-wide sidewalks that were installed on the underpass after its reconstruction. These connect to a shared bike lane on 80th Street, so “we would pick up where shared lanes left off on 80th Street and bring it over to Woodhaven Boulevard,” Fraint said.

The final option seeks to connect Ridgewood to Long Island City through Maspeth along Fresh Pond Road, 59th Drive to Rust Street. In the opposite direction, the route would take Rust Street to 60th Street then to 60th Avenue and back down Fresh Pond Road.

A segment of Fresh Pond Road, which is 44 feet wide, can accommodate 14-foot shared lanes in both directions, keeping the configuration of one travel lane in each direction and parking on both sides.

59th Drive is one-way westbound from the turn off Fresh Pond Road up until 60th Street, and at 26 feet wide, “we will be able to keep the condition as is, but add a shared lane for cyclists,” Fraint said.

As 59th Drive continues past 60th Street, it becomes a 30-foot-wide two-way street, and the DOT is looking to put in a center line and shared lane symbols.

The DOT is still working out what type of bicycle facilities would be the best fit on Rust Street.
Fraint added that a lot of cyclists are using that route and it is a logical connector between Ridgewood and Long Island City.

After the board heard all three options, they discussed which ones they would like to see implemented in the community.

“I do like the Metropolitan, 69th and Eliot [route],” said John Maier, co-chair of the committee. “I think Eliot makes a lot of sense.”

For option two, Maier said that Fresh Pond Road is “already a traffic nightmare,” but that cyclists do use the route and it is worth taking a look at.

Panel members agreed that the first option would be the best fit for the communities. They liked option two, with some modifications to the 80th Street section. The DOT needs to further study the third option before the board accepts it. The DOT hopes to begin installing the accepted routes during 2015.

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New Kosciuszko Bridge construction update


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of NYC DOT

The state Department of Transportation has issued a construction advisory regarding the initial phases of the new Kosciuszko Bridge project.

The bulk of the work affects side streets on both sides of the span in Greenpoint and west Maspeth, including new water mains, gas lines, electrical wires and storm/sewer pipes.

Crews from Con Edison and Verizon will also install duct banks on 56th Road, which will cause traffic to intermittently be shifted to the right and left. The road, however, will remain open to two-way traffic at all times.

Due to the continued removal of the red brick and concrete walls underneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) between Sutton and Apollo Streets, one lane of westbound Meeker Avenue between these limits will remain closed through the summer of 2015 to facilitate the removal of the wall and the subsequent rebuilding.

Other work includes the restriping of eastbound Meeker Avenue, between Kingsland and Porter Avenues, to create a work zone. This is required to access the roadway deck and low wall along the edge of the Queens-bound BQE that must be removed.

This work, scheduled to being on or about March 23, will involve the placement of a concrete barrier along the Queens-bound BQE and a traffic lane shift on eastbound Meeker Avenue, between Kingsland and Porter avenues. Intermittent lane closures during daytime and evening hours will be required.

Advanced notices for specific activities will be distributed to residents and businesses prior to the start of work. The construction schedule is weather permitting and subject to change.

The more than $500 million project involves the construction of two new cable-stayed suspension bridges to replace the existing, aging steel-truss span. The first new bridge will be erected adjacent to the south side of the existing bridge and is scheduled to open in late 2016.

Once the first new span is complete, all BQE traffic will be shifted onto it, and crews will begin demolishing the old bridge. The second cable-stayed span will rise in the original bridge’s footprint; it is expected to be completed by 2019.

For more information, visit www.dot.ny.gov/kbridge or email kosciuszko@dot.ny.gov.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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