Tag Archives: DOT

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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More safety improvements coming to Woodhaven Boulevard


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Woodhaven Boulevard is one step closer to becoming safer as the Department of Transportation (DOT) is widening some of the medians for pedestrians crossing the street.

The DOT installed temporary pedestrian safety areas at multiple intersections. These are designated areas that are set off by yellow safety cones that widen the medians for pedestrians to stand on.

The changes come as part of the Woodhaven Boulevard congested corridors study from 2012.

The study outlined the major problems with the busy 3.2-mile thoroughfare from Queens Boulevard to Rockaway Boulevard.

The safety areas have been set up at the intersections of Woodhaven Boulevard and Queens Boulevard and Woodhaven Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway. The DOT is now looking to remove these temporary safety areas and make them permanent by adding concrete to “improve the boulevard’s walkability,” according a spokeswomen.

From Union Turnpike to Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South to Rockaway Boulevard, the corridor stretches out to two main roads and two service roads.

Most of the cement medians along these portions of boulevard that are currently in place are small in width. With narrow medians, there is the danger that one false step for pedestrians could have potentially tragic consequences as traffic is speeding by.

Some of the newer work done by the DOT along the boulevard is in this specific area. Just last week the DOT added a temporary pedestrian safety improvement area at the northbound intersection of 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, which is between Park Lane South and Rockaway Boulevard. The area was surrounded by yellow safety cones and built out beyond the cement to the end the crosswalk.

The DOT did not immediately respond to a request on whether this intersection will be fully built out.

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Jamaica of the future imagined by residents


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Imagine Jamaica with more affordable housing, better transportation and more, higher-paying localized jobs.

That was the vision put forward for the neighborhood when more than 100 residents and community advocates attended the city-run Jamaica Planning Initiative meeting this past weekend.

“We’ve been talking to ourselves for too long in this community,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “We care about the future and are so excited for this plan going forward.”

With so much change having hit the neighborhood already, the city came up with the idea of meeting with local residents to find out what they want in the future. The Jamaica Planning Initiative was a community workshop that broke up residents in attendance into four small groups: 1) transportation, public space and urban design, 2) housing and commercial development, 3) Jamaica identity, branding and marketing and 4) Jamaica jobs. Residents chose the issue that they felt was most pertinent.

They focused on the study area east of the Van Wyck Expressway to Farmers Boulevard and north of Linden Boulevard to Union Turnpike.

Topics discussed were plans for more affordable housing units, finding safer ways for pedestrians to cross streets, creating a localized job market for residents in the community, upgrading small business opportunities and bringing better transportation to the neighborhood.

One issue that was brought up by residents was the concern for more affordable housing.

“We need affordable places for people to live that don’t make much money,” one resident said in a focus group. “That is where the money should be invested.”

At this point, the city agencies working on the project, which include the DOT, Regional Plan Association, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the NYC Small Business Service among local elects, were looking for community feedback so they can move along to the next phase, which is the Jamaica Action Plan. It is the final step before actual implementation.

“The Jamaica Action Plan will incorporate your crucial feedback on topics of focus and opportunity,” said Cali Williams, vice president of the NYC EDC. “Based on today’s charrette sessions, the city will release a set of realistic projects and programs to improve and enliven the experience of Jamaica.”

The workshop turned out to be a major success for all parties.

Regarding the next step, which is the implantation process, the projects will be identified as short-, medium- and long-term proposals. Some of the short-term projects will begin “right away,” according to the EDC, and they and local elects are looking for the continued support of the neighborhood.

“Queens is the diamond of all boroughs,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “But we can’t have the greatness we are unless everybody participates in the building of our community.”

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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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Select Bus Service lanes to speed up travel along Woodhaven Boulevard


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

Transit officials unveiled three potential designs for Woodhaven Boulevard’s new Select Bus Service (SBS), slated to be the first rapid transit lane in the city physically separated from traffic.

The MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) have to choose whether to either quickly create designated lanes off-set from the curb with room for parking; extend sidewalks that would meet the off-set lanes; or dig up medians and build main road bus lanes.

Whichever design is chosen, the route will run from Queens Boulevard to the Rockaways and will allow for three lanes of traffic on both sides of the corridor.

In the first option, the off-set bus lanes would be one lane out from the curb, leaving space for parking along the boulevard. This option would warrant the least construction out of the three proposed routes.

Additionally, the DOT would build out the sidewalk at designated “SBS bus bulb stations.” In that case, the sidewalk would be extended out to the off-set bus lanes to allow more room for passengers waiting to get on the bus.

The second proposal would create main road bus lanes in the right lane throughout the designated area. From Union Turnpike to Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South to Rockaway Boulevard, it would run in the right lane of the main road corridor. Then, it would take the right lane from Rockaway Boulevard south to the Rockaways.

If main road bus lanes were put in, the DOT would come in and rip up much of the medians separating the main roads from the service roads and widen them so that people waiting for the bus have at least 7 to 10 feet of curb space to stand on.

They would also be building new medians in certain designated areas that have not all been determined yet.

For the final proposal, the red painted lanes would run through the middle of each corridor where the left lanes currently are.

To do this type of project, the DOT would come in and rip up the corridors that separate north- and south-bound traffic and expand them where necessary.

Furthermore, for the median lanes, north- and south-bound buses will travel right next to each other. For north-bound stops, the median for people to stand on will be on the east side of the bus, and for south-bound stops, travelers will wait on the west side.

All plans at this point are still being studied by the agencies. They will continue to work in more detail on every section of the boulevard for each proposal and will also have more community outreach, according to a representative who is working on the project.

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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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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.

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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.”

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City’s closure of Flushing overpass causes businesses to suffer


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

The city’s extended closure of an overpass bridge in Flushing is set to end by 2016, according to a Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman. But the long wait could continue to hurt local business owners.

LIRR train tracks cut through 149th Street, with an overpass bridge connecting the two sides of the street. The bridge has been closed since 2009, according to residents and business owners in the area.

According to a DOT spokesman, a new bridge was ready to open in 2012, but during a final inspection the department found cracks in the foundation, leading the department to keep the bridge closed.

The lack of a bridge in the area left several businesses on 41st Avenue disconnected from the other side. Traffic withered away as a result, business owners said, and led to a noticeable reduction in customers visiting the stores on 41st Avenue, near the 149th Street overpass bridge.

“I’m lucky if I get half the customers I used to get before the bridge closed,” said Kyung Yoon, who owns a deli on 41st Avenue. “It’s not good for business. We pay taxes, don’t we? So why are they taking so long to open it again?”

Yoon points out that there are other overpass bridges in the area but for most people they’re inconvenient to use.

The city’s spokesman said that the bridge will remain closed for public safety. He said they continue to meet with local stakeholders and they will continue to provide updates to the community as they work to “reopen this important connection.”

The spokesman pointed out that the city opened the bridge to foot traffic in response to the community’s needs.

While pedestrians can still use the bridge, the area has become a hang out spot for people who want to drink alcohol, residents said. And, for this reason, resident Karina Hernandez said she barely ever comes to the deli’s side of the tracks.

Karina Hernandez lives on the other side of the tracks and she often goes to Northern Boulevard instead because if she drives it’s too inconvenient to use one of the working overpass bridges. And if she walks, the people who hang out on the bridge deter her from making the journey.

“It’s so ridiculous that it’s been closed for this long,” she said. “I used to come to these places all the time. But now, I barely ever make it unless it’s during the day and I’m not driving.”

Along with Yoon’s deli, there is also a pharmacy-café, a Chinese restaurant and a Korean restaurant. The workers at the pharmacy-café and the Korean restaurant also noted that business hasn’t been as good over the last five years because of the closed overpass bridge.

The city plans on completing a final design in 2014. And in the fall of 2015 the spokesman expects a construction contract to be hashed out. The new overpass bridge should be completed within six months after that.

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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.

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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.

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Slow zone arrives in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Drivers will now have to take it slow on the streets of Jackson Heights.

Local elected officials, community leaders and Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives announced Monday afternoon the implementation of the Jackson Heights Slow Zone.

The slow zone, which runs from 69th Street to 87th Street between Roosevelt and 34th avenues, was designed through input from the community, Councilman Daniel Dromm and Community Board 3.

“This slow zone brings much needed traffic safety elements to one of Jackson Heights’ busiest business and residential areas,” Dromm said. “Unfortunately during the last few years these streets have seen traffic fatalities. The reduced speed and the speed bumps will make an impact and get drivers to finally slow down.”

The area was selected based on the transportation agency’s evaluation on crash history, traffic fatalities, community support, and the closeness of schools and senior 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 Jackson Heights Slow Zone is bordered by 34th Avenue, Broadway, Roosevelt Avenue and 87th Street. There are six schools, two daycare and pre-K centers, and one senior center in the area.

“Additionally, the frequent signs along the periphery of the zone act as an educational tool to alert pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers that this is an area where people need to be cautious,” Dromm said.

According to the DOT, since 2007 there have been 14 pedestrians severely injured, 14 vehicle occupants severely injured and three fatalities in the zone.

The Jackson Heights Slow Zone includes 26 new speed bumps, added to existing 2 bumps, and 23 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

“The new signs, markings and speed bumps now clearly signal New Yorkers to slow down and help save lives,” said Dalila Hall, DOT Queens Borough Commissioner.

Image courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Image courtesy of the Department of Transportation

In the slow zone area, Dromm allocated $300,000 in capital funds for a Safe Routes to Schools Project, which will install curb extensions at intersections around St. Joan of Arc and the Renaissance Charter School. The extensions will help shorten crossing distances for pedestrians while also decreasing the speed of vehicles.

 

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Plans for proposed Sunnyside, Woodside slow zones revealed


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Department of Transportation

More streets in western Queens will soon be slower and safer.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) presented its plans for two proposed slow zones in Sunnyside Gardens, Woodside and Sunnyside, south of Queens Boulevard, before Community Board 2 (CB 2) during a public hearing on Wednesday night.

The slow zones were designed through input from the community, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and CB 2.

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 and senior and day care centers.

THE COURIER/File Photo

THE COURIER/File Photo

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 first proposed area, which would be called the Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside Slow Zone, would 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.

SG-W SZ

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

The Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside Slow Zone would include 18 proposed speed bumps, added to the already existing 12 bumps, and 19 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

In the proposed Sunnyside Slow Zone, which has four schools in the area, the borders would 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 three severe pedestrian injuries and five severe injuries involving vehicle occupants.

The Sunnyside Slow Zone would include 20 speed bumps, in addition to the current eight bumps, and 31 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

CB 2 will vote on the proposal during its next monthly meeting.

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Speed bumps installed along Juniper Valley Park, residents call for more safety measures


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

It’s going to be a bumpy ride for speeders along Juniper Boulevard North after the installation of three speed bumps last week.

The stretch along the north side of Juniper Valley Park has long been a source of community concern. Cars and motorcycles would routinely zip along the street, which had no traffic lights or stop signs, residents said.

After a request from Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and the approval from Community Board 5 (CB 5), speed bumps were installed at 78th Street, 77th Place and 75th Street to deter cars from speeding, according to a Department of Transportation (DOT) representative.

But on the south side, residents are calling for a traffic signal to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the street.

For over a year now, CB 5 has been asking the DOT to do a traffic signal study to possibly add a traffic light on Juniper Boulevard South.

“The transportation members of the board felt a traffic light would be more efficient on [the south] side,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “A lot of people go to the park each day. They should have a safe place to cross.”

The community board is calling for a light on 78th Street where there is an entrance to the park.

The request for a light at the intersection was denied once already by the DOT but the board is asking for a reconsideration.

The DOT did offer to put a speed bump in the area of 78th Street, due to a request from Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, according to a DOT representative.

But CB 5 turned it down because they would like to see a light there.

Board members feel that even though speeding is a problem all around the park, this spot would be safer with a traffic light because it will eliminate two problems: speeding and crossing issues, Giordano said.

The request for a reconsideration of a traffic signal study was made on March 31.

The DOT has yet to make a decision. Giordano hopes that the DOT will decide soon, especially because school is now back in session and P.S./I.S. 49 sits just two blocks away on 80th Street.

But if the DOT does again deny a traffic signal, Giordano said the board will be more open to other options.

“If the traffic signal gets denied again,” Giordano said, “then we will be more open to possibly putting a speed bump there.”

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Jackson Heights mural discourages drunk driving


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

The conversation against drunk driving has taken a colorful turn in Jackson Heights.

A 20-foot by 100-foot family-friendly mural focusing on the prevention of drinking and driving, titled “Hit the Brakes on DWI and Choose the Right Path,” was unveiled on Wednesday at 34-20 Junction Blvd.

The colorful piece, which is on a wall of a Food Bazaar Supermarket and promotes the role of the whole community in preventing DWIs, was completed by 16 teens participating in the Summer Leadership Institute of Groundswell, a local organization dedicated to community public art “advancing social change.”

The group of teens worked as paid apprentices together with co-lead artists Angel Garcia and Olivia Fu over two months during the summer to complete the mural.

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Groundswell worked in partnership with the city Department of Transportation (DOT) and Food Bazaar Supermarket.

“This group has done a really great job making this mural and making this topic really clear and putting it into a positive light, really focusing on the solutions and choices people can make to avoid accidents,” Fu said.

On the mural, the slogan “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” appears in both English and Spanish. The artwork features colorful images and symbols such as the No. 7 train taking passengers away from accidents and a phoenix showing the rising of a community.

To add more context to the mural, the DOT also invited a former DWI offender, who is on probation, to speak with the mural’s project team and share his story and transformation.

“Groundswell youth had a memorable summer job experience, participating in the completion of something meaningful for the community and becoming an essential part of this family-friendly mural on road safety awareness,” said Amy Sananman, Groundswell founder and executive director. “Our youth muralists are eager to share their leaning with the broader community, including real life strategies for DWI deference.”

One the youth artists, Springfield Gardens resident De-Jean Rose, 18, said he had fun during the summer completing the mural and hopes that the community gets the message behind the piece.

“It’s a sensitive topic and throughout the whole summer we got the chance to elaborate more on the topic and note the seriousness,” Rose said. “It was a good experience, everybody was like family and the lead artists were very helpful. It was a good experience overall.”

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Cross Bay Boulevard gets more parking — for bikes


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Parking is never easy to find on Cross Bay Boulevard. But that has now changed — for bicyclists at least — as the Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun installing bike racks along the boulevard.

The installation of the racks is part of a citywide initiative of recycling and reusing the now-obsolete vehicle parking meter poles by converting them into bicycle parking spaces, according to a DOT representative.

“The bike racks being installed along Cross Bay Boulevard are part of a citywide project to recycle the single-space meters and retrofit the pipes into mini-hoop style bike racks,” the DOT representative said.

The installation began on Aug. 25 and a total of 86 bike racks are being put along both sides of the boulevard. The racks will extend from Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park, south to 165th Avenue in Howard Beach, according to the DOT representative.

The initiative was started in 2011 when many of the single-space parking meters had their heads removed as the muni-meters made their way onto city streets and demand grew for bike parking throughout the five boroughs. The bike racks are made to easily slide onto the old parking meter poles already installed on the sidewalk, according to the DOT website.

Howard Beach is part of the Jamaica Bay Greenway route, which has a bike lane running from the neighborhood into the Rockaways.

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