Tag Archives: DOT

Citi Bike rolling into LIC this August


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

The blue bikes will finally be making their way into the “World’s Borough.”

Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, and the Department of Transportation announced Friday that the Citi Bike expansion, which was announced last October, will begin in early August with new stations being installed in various neighborhoods, including Long Island City.

The first wave of stations is part of a larger expansion plan that is expected to double the size of the bike share network from 6,000 to 12,000 bikes throughout the city over the next two years.

“With over 19 million trips, it is clear that New Yorkers love Citi Bike and we are excited to see the network double in size, expanding to Queens, more of Brooklyn, and upper Manhattan,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

There will be 91 new stations installed during this first phase of the expansion throughout Long Island City, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

Long Island City will get a total of 12 stations, including one by the Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av subway station, another in front of MoMa PS1, one next to the LIC Flea & Food and another right by Queensboro Plaza.

Map via citibikenyc.com

Map via citibikenyc.com

“The long-awaited arrival of Citi Bike in Long Island City is great news. Bike share will allow the people to enjoy our neighborhood in a healthy, fun way and facilitate easier travel around western Queens, an area in dire need of better mass transit,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said.

Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted in 2013, but was pushed back after equipment damage from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

Astoria is another Queens neighborhood slated for docking stations; however, those bikes will arrive at a later time.

“For years I have fought to bring Citi Bike to Queens and I’m proud to say that the blue bikes will be here soon,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “Cycling in western Queens has become extremely popular and the addition of 12 new Citi Bike docking stations add a much-needed alternative mode of transportation to an area of the borough that is growing and vibrant, and in need of more transportation options.”

Along with the expansion, Motivate has also replaced the software that powers Citi Bike, replaced software and hardware at all exiting stations and docking points, and added 1,000 new and upgraded bikes to its fleet. An additional 1,400 bikes will be added this summer to stock up the new stations.

The bikes, which were developed in partnership with Olympic bike designer Ben Serotta, have new features, including higher-quality parts and upgraded seats.

Motivate is also working to provide discounted Citi Bike memberships to residents of affordable housing developments, and free access for group rides to community-based organizations.

For more information on the Citi Bike expansion, visit www.citibikenyc.com/expansion.

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New bus lanes expected to improve travel times along Woodhaven Boulevard


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Salvatore Licata

Drivers on Woodhaven Boulevard will have some new rules to follow starting this month.

In continuing efforts to improve bus travel times and reliability, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is creating offset bus-only lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard between Dry Harbor Road and Metropolitan Avenue on the Rego Park/Middle Village border. Only buses will be permitted to travel on the lanes during the morning and evening rush hours.

The proposed changes will affect two 20-foot travel lanes on the right side in each direction, which are shared as parking spaces and bus stops. They will be converted into 8-foot parking/bus stop lanes and 12-foot bus lanes.

The bus-only restriction in the designated lanes will be in effect five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 7 to 10 a.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. At all other times, they will be regular travel lanes, permitting use from any vehicle. Parking will remain along the curb with all existing regulations intact.

Regardless of time, vehicles can enter or cross over a bus lane to make right turns, to access a curb cut or driveway within 200 feet, enter a parking space, or to quickly drop off or pick up passengers.

The new bus lanes are expected to improve bus travel time and reliability for the nearly 30,000 daily bus riders along Woodhaven Boulevard. It is also a harbinger for further changes as the DOT and MTA implement Select Bus Service along Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards in the months to come.

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Councilman starts petition for traffic safety improvements surrounding Astoria Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Katrina Medoff

After the life of a 21-year-old woman was cut short last month on her way home, one local politician is putting his foot down and asking Astoria residents to join the fight to bring safety improvements in and around Astoria Park.

Councilman Costa Constantinides started a petition Monday calling for improvements to be made on streets such as Shore Boulevard, Ditmars Boulevard, 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue South.

“The streets surrounding Astoria Park are a dangerous stretch for pedestrians. The corridor is used by many families and children on the way to the park. All the while, many motorists race to and from the park at high rates of speed. A recent hit-and-run death that occurred in the area shows that we need better traffic safety,” Constantinides said. “We have made great strides recently in calming traffic in Astoria through safety improvements on 21st Street south of Hoyt Avenue and through the upcoming slow zone south of Astoria Boulevard. That’s why I have started a petition to support traffic improvements on the streets in and around Astoria Park. I look forward to working with DOT to make Astoria a safer place to live.”

The petition comes after Betty DiBiasio was struck on June 28 by a car as she was crossing a marked crosswalk at the intersection of Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street, just blocks from her home.

The car, which was being driven by 24-year-old Astoria resident Nicholas Colleran, drove through a stop sign and then struck DiBiasio, according to officials.

Colleran allegedly called 911 about an hour after the accident to report that his car had been stolen and in his vehicle theft investigation report claimed it had been taken from a parking lot in the back of his residence. The vehicle was discovered in another location in Astoria with a broken windshield and driver’s side-view mirror, and a damaged driver’s side front fender.

There also appeared to be blood and hair in the driver’s side windshield, where it was broken, and, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, was consistent with a vehicle striking a pedestrian and the pedestrian hitting the windshield.

Colleran then turned himself into the police where he admitted that he had two beers before driving and striking DiBiasio and then leaving the scene.

He was charged with leaving the scene of an incident without reporting a death, third-degree falsely reporting an incident, failure to stop for a stop sign, driving by an unlicensed operator, failure to exercise due care and a violation of the city’s administrative code.

To sign Constantinides’ petition, click here.

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North Shore Towers residents rally for left-hand signal in Floral Park


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Stephen Vrattos

Residents of the North Shore Towers rallied on June 25 to continue their fight for a left-hand turn signal at a busy intersection near their co-op buildings.

Co-op members charge that the high volume of cars make it treacherous for pedestrians to cross the street at the meeting point of Grand Central Parkway and Little Neck Parkway, but inquiries to state agencies have produced no increase in safety measures. Residents of the building were at the rally, as well at Glen Kotowski, co-op general manager, and Mort Gitter, board president.

“It’s a very dangerous turn onto the Grand Central Parkway side road,” resident Sheila Fejes said.

“We’re not giving up,” added rally organizer Felice Hannah, who serves as both the chair of the Political Action Committee and a co-op board member at North Shore Towers.

State Senator Tony Avella has also been involved in the unsuccessful fight for increased street signage at the intersection.

“Once again, the Department of Transportation is not being responsive to the needs of the community,” Avella said. “Despite DOT denying my request for additional controls, the conditions at this intersection demand further action.”

A representative from Avella’s office said that he previously had put in a request for the installation of a left-hand turn signal in February, but after some consideration the DOT office decided that additional signage was not needed.

To change any existing street sign configuration in New York City, the DOT must complete a study to understand the extent of existing safety risks and determine any possible effects it could have on local traffic. As part of this study, the DOT analyzes reports from the Department of Motor Vehicles on traffic accidents occurring in the last three years in the affected area.

A source in the Queens DOT office said that the agency is currently studying the location after being contacted by Hannah in April, and will share the results with stakeholders once its review is completed.

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DOT commissioner headlines Myrtle Avenue BID meeting in Ridgewood


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

The city’s top transportation official touted ongoing traffic initiatives during the 27th Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) yearly meeting on Tuesday night in Ridgewood.

As the event’s keynote speaker, NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg spoke in support of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative and touted the success of the program. Trottenberg has referred to the Vision Zero initiative as one of the “signature priorities” of both the de Blasio administration and the DOT.

“We look forward to this partnership on safety projects, causes and all of the other things that will help make this neighborhood really thrive and be prosperous,” Trottenberg said.

The action plans are meant to target problematic intersections with high crash and fatality rates. The DOT hopes to reduce incidents of injury or death through a combination of education, enforcement and engineering improvements, including curbside neckdowns and designated bicycle lanes.

Capt. Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct’s commanding officer, shared in Trottenberg’s optimism. “Vision Zero is working,” he said. “Fatalities are down, and that’s the biggest thing.”

Wachter employs a similar approach to the DOT’s action plans in his combination of community education and enforcement. This dual pronged effort focuses on preventing unsafe behavior through education while curbing ongoing hazardous behavior through hefty fines and enforcement.

According to Wachter, the 104th Precinct saw three fewer fatalities this year versus the previous year. For the captain, the success of Vision Zero is a joint effort shared among motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

“Everybody’s got to look out. It’s everybody’s job,” Wachter explained. He cautioned motorists and pedestrians alike to use be alert at intersections and dangerous turns, and warned pedestrians to avoid using cellphones while walking.

DOT Senior Project Manager Alexander Keating noted that the Community Board 5 area, which includes Ridgewood, is participating in the federally funded “Go Smart NYC” pilot program designed to reduce congestion and pollution while increasing foot traffic to local businesses and communities. Go Smart NYC aims to increase education regarding travel options and alternatives to driving, such as walking, biking, carpooling and mass transit.

As an added incentive, program participants sign in and log their trips on the Go Smart website in exchange for special discounts at local merchants and retailers. For example, local restaurants such as Ltauha and Ridgewood Eats are offering participants 10 percent off their dine-in orders through December 2015. Rudy’s Bakery, the Onderdonk House and Cook’s Crafts in Glendale are offering discounts for various goods and services.

Thus far, 289 Board 5 residents have signed up for the Go Smart NYC program, according to Keating. Out of the 229 total trips logged, 101 were on foot, translating into 15,000 total calories burned and a communal savings of $455.

Meanwhile, City Councilman Antonio Reynoso advocated for bike lanes and greater bike access throughout the district.

“Vehicles have a convenient way to get across in a way that bikes don’t,” he explained. “People are breaking the law to compensate for that, which is not acceptable, but as a city we need to make sure that we can put the infrastructure in place that would allow for them to move freely as well.”

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More road work closures on Jackie Robinson Parkway this week


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Ongoing renovations on the Jackie Robinson Parkway will cause even more headaches for drivers this week.

Portions of the eastbound lanes of the 5-mile parkway between Pennsylvania/Jamaica Avenues in Brooklyn and the Van Wyck Expressway will be closed overnight from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. through Friday, July 3, as crews replace existing guardrails.

Additionally, the right lane of the eastbound parkway between the Woodhaven Boulevard overpass and Metropolitan Avenue will be shut down on weekdays from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. through Thursday. The closure is needed as workers replace a retaining wall.

The closures are part of the state Department of Transportation’s efforts to upgrade the entire Jackie Robinson Parkway, which connects Kew Gardens to eastern Brooklyn and winds its way through Ridgewood, Glendale, Cypress Hills, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.

Both sides of the parkway will be resurfaced in the $17 million project, which also includes the installation of new safety devices, lane markings and reflectors. The state DOT indicated in May that entire segments of the parkway would be closed to traffic on six separate weekends through the late summer.

Drivers are advised to use designated detour routes while closures are in effect. The DOT also reminds them to travel safely and slowly through work zones; by law, speeding fines are doubled in work zones, and convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone may result in a driver’s license suspension.

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Safety improvements unveiled at ‘deadly’ Astoria intersection


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DOT

A two-mile-long Astoria thoroughfare that has seen five fatalities and seven severe injuries between 2009 and 2013 has just gotten safer for pedestrians.

Representatives from the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) joined local elected officials and residents Friday morning to unveil corridor safety improvements for 21st Street between Hoyt Avenue South and Queens Plaza.

“We launched Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative in Queens over a year ago and every day we see the difference these safety project have throughout the ‘World’s Borough,’ from 21st Street to Queens Boulevard and beyond,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The Astoria corridor, which is also a truck route, is made of a 60-foot-wide road with two travel lanes in each direction.

The safety improvements, which are part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, include adding a new pedestrian crossing at 29th Avenue through a new traffic signal; upgrading existing street lights to LED lights and adding more street lights on 21st Street to improve visibility; adding parking lane stripes along the street to define moving lines; and adding 12 painted curb extensions along the corridor to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians at nine intersections.

“For far too long, 21st Street has been known as a deadly speedway and the improvements we are introducing will help put an end to the reckless driving that has claimed too many lives,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said.

Earlier this year, DOT also installed seven-second Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs), which give pedestrian-only walk time before vehicles get a green light, at 10 intersections on 21st Street.

“This thoroughfare has long been notorious for pedestrian fatalities. Cars frequently travel above the speed limit and there have been several deaths due to car accidents on the street over the last decade,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides. “These Vision Zero improvements will make the street, home to major senior and youth developments, safer for pedestrians and drivers from across the community.”

Image courtesy of DOT

Image courtesy of DOT

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Pilot program promoting public transportation launched in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy NYC DOT flickr

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) pilot Go Smart NYC program has launched in the areas of Community Board 5 (CB 5).

Go Smart NYC is designed to increase residents’ use of public transportation, biking, carpooling, or walking in order to reduce the traffic congestion and emissions caused by single-occupancy motor vehicle trips.

The DOT chose CB 5 as the pilot area due to its population, proximity to public transportation options and bike lanes, walkability, as well as its high level of car ownership.

“The congestion and traffic in our communities can sometimes be unbearable. Go Smart NYC plans to alleviate that with the click of a button,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “Walking, biking, public transportation and carpooling are all viable urban modes of travel and I look forward to this program’s roll out and working with the DOT to make it as effective as possible for everyone.”

Residents can sign up for the program through the Go Smart NYC website. After registering, participants can order a free, personalized travel toolkit, with information about walking, biking, public transit, carpooling and Vision Zero safety and education materials.

“I am excited that Community Board 5 has been selected for the kickoff to the city’s launch of Go Smart NYC,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “Middle Village, Ridgewood, Maspeth and Glendale are home to a wealth of local businesses, and this program encourages residents to shop and explore these neighborhoods by foot, transit and bike. The more we can walk or use public transit, the better off we will be as a society.”

Registered participants will be able to log their trips online in order to earn discount rewards at over 20 local businesses that are partnering with the DOT to help encourage sustainable travel choices and local shopping. To further enhance residents’ experiences with walking, biking or public transit, the DOT will assist the local community board in installing city benches, city racks, and a real-time bus information sign at an area bus stop.

“The Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and Ridgewood Local Development Corporation are delighted to be partners for DOT’s new innovative program Go Smart NYC,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue BID. “This is a win-win: increase of residents’ use of public transit, biking, carpooling or just plain walking will reduce traffic congestion. At the same time, it will encourage people to shop locally and support our merchants.”

Go Smart NYC will run in the areas of Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth until November. DOT is also looking at the possibility of expanding the program to other areas of the city in 2016, if the pilot is successful.

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Corona, Flushing schools win DOT street safety video contest


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Videos via YouTube/NYC DOT

Hey drivers and pedestrians: Let’s be careful out there!

That’s the message students from the Corona Arts and Sciences Academy and Flushing’s P.S. 255 sent in their winning entries as part of the Department of Transportation (DOT) “We’re Walking Here” public service announcement (PSA) contest.

Students at the participating schools were tasked with developing PSA videos that promote walking and active lifestyles while also urging drivers and pedestrians alike to stay safe. The videos are part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to increase street safety across the five boroughs.

The Corona Arts and Sciences Academy took home a $1,000 grant as the first-place winner, while P.S. 255 earned a $500 grant for finishing third. The Safe Streets Fund, a public-private partnership that promotes street safety, provided the prize money.

“In this crucial second year of Vision Zero, we are thrilled that these students are putting their creative minds behind this important safety message,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is never too young to begin educating peers on street safety.”

“Walking,” the Corona Academy video, is based on Pharrell Williams’ hit song, “Happy,” and was shot across Corona and in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Teacher Adriana Baiata led the production, which featured lead singers Cristian Dominquez and Jannet Palaguachi, and students Christine Avila, Christopher Carchi, Radhames Dilon, Harry Hernandez, Roselyn Hernandez, Natalie Huerta, Victor Infante, Edwin Jimbo, Aileen Palaguachi, Gagi Jean Renee, Bralin Rodriquez, Leslie Rodriquez, Sarita Roque, Vanessa Rosario, Jeremy Saladana, Elvin Sosa, Kelvin Yunga and Kelvin Zenteno.

Students proclaim “We like to walk” in the P.S. 255 hip-hop video shot in and around the Flushing school. It was directed by teacher Jenny Kim and paraprofessional Cadecia Lowe, and features students Adam Choudhry, Mohammed Hamza, Caleb Kang, Brian Ma, Malik Merlius, Aryan Minhas and Terrel Watson from Class Y40.


Schools can now pre-register to participate in next year’s “We’re Walking Here” competition by clicking here.

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LIC residents call on DOT to return hundreds of public parking spaces


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents in Long Island City want the Department of Transportation to know that its decision to take away hundreds of public parking spaces at one parking garage is not in their favor and the agency needs to return what belongs to the community.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with angry residents Friday morning to call on the transportation agency to restore 330 public parking permits that were taken away by DOT at the Court Square Municipal Parking Garage, located at 45-40 Court Square.

“The DOT a few months ago without consultation decided they were going to change the rules, they were going to make it more difficult for the people in this community to park their cars, make it more difficult for them to get to work on time, take their kids to school, do all the things they need to do,” Van Bramer said. “These seem like small matters, but the truth is it’s the small things that make a big difference in the quality of life.”

IMG_0074

Along with removing over 50 parking spaces last December in order to make room for DOT vehicles, the policy of the garage was changed two months ago making 210 parking spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“It’s a wrong decision. It’s a foolish decision. It requires to be reversed not tomorrow but today,” resident Rama Rao said. “We are a community here. We contributed through Arris Lofts and other buildings around here to build Long Island City what it is today.”

According to residents, for the past two months they have had to wait hours in line during days designated by the DOT in order for them to pay their existing monthly parking and also ensure they get the spots for the following month.

“This is ‘The Hunger Games’ of monthly permit parking,” said P.C. Cheng, an LIC resident who has been parking at the garage since 2008.

Lines of hundreds of people fill the parking garage during those days and people have to wait in the middle of active driveways, some bringing in chairs to wait, according to residents. They say parking spaces have also been taken away to make room for a DOT storage facility surrounded by a fence.

Photo courtesy of P.C. Cheng

Hundreds of people waited hours to make sure they got a space at the Court Square Municipal Park for the month of June. (Photo courtesy of P.C. Cheng)

Cindy Vitari, who has been living in the neighborhood since 2007, said last month her husband had to wait four hours and was late to work.

“The sudden change is undemocratic. It’s not right for the residents of Long Island City,” Vitari said. “We have had to fight for space in our schools and anything to do with our public transportation, with our parking being taking away now, too.”

Van Bramer said that his office was never contacted in regard to the change and he is calling on the DOT to give the spaces back to the people that live and work in Long Island City.

“I am calling on them to rescind both of these policies which are not helping anyone here in Long Island City; they’re only making life more difficult for these folks who have invested in Court Square, invested in Long Island City,” Van Bramer said.

According to a DOT spokesperson, the DOT seeks a fair and efficient balance between daily and monthly permits and after hearing concerns from local stakeholders, the agency decided to implement the policy change in order to allow motorists to apply for 210 monthly spaces on a first-come, first-served basis.

The remaining 120 spaces, which used to be monthly spaces, are now being using for short-term parking and according to the DOT no spaces are being lost with the change of policy.

“This not only allows for all motorists to have a fair chance to apply for a monthly permit, but also allows for more short-term parking in the area, which is home to several courts, a museum and a law school,” a DOT spokesperson said.

In regard to the spaces being taken by DOT vehicles, the spokesperson said the agency’s operational fleet, which carry speed camera equipment, is kept there to be in close proximity to the unit they serve and are dispatched from. DOT also added that the spaces taken are not part of the 330 spaces made available to the public.

DOT also plans to implement an electronic permit reservation system this summer that will allow for a faster process.

The agency plans to review data obtained in the next several months and then make any necessary changes, if needed.

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CB 2 unanimously approves Queens Boulevard safety improvements


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Department of Transportation

Queens Boulevard is now one step closer to going from the “Boulevard of Death” to the “Boulevard of Life.”

Community Board 2 (CB 2) unanimously voted Thursday night to approve the Department of Transportation’s proposed safety improvements and redesign of a 1.3-mile portion of Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street.

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

“Community Board 2’s unanimous vote tonight is a big step toward turning Queens Boulevard into the Boulevard of Life,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg in a statement after the meeting. “This investment made by the de Blasio Administration will make the boulevard safer, greener and better for all users. I would like to thank the community for its support and local leaders, such as Councilman [Jimmy] Van Bramer, for their leadership.”

A preliminary plan for the strip was released in March. The proposal presented by DOT representatives during the June 4 meeting was based on community input gathered during safety workshops earlier this year and also a meeting held with CB 2’s Transportation Committee two days prior to last night’s vote.

DSC_1479

Some of the features of the first redesign segment, expected to be implemented in August, include safer crossings, increased pedestrian space and improved intersections. The 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.

Goals for the redesign include keeping the main line moving, reducing constant lane change, completing crosswalks and connecting neighborhoods, and eliminating highway-like design features.

Unique redesigns include a protected bike lane integrated into a widened service road median, with new pedestrian space and median-to-median crossings.

As part of their decision, CB 2 members asked the DOT to keep an ongoing dialogue with the community and address issues such as the loss of parking spaces and some of the turn lanes off the center median of the thoroughfare.

DSC_1469

(THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano)

Residents at the meeting voiced their support for the proposal and praised DOT for the proposed safety improvements.

“What I’m really excited about the proposal today is that it kind of paints a future and gives an idea of what it would be like to have a road safe enough to bicycle on and it makes me excited to get my bicycle out and actually ride it,” said Patrick Rhea, a resident who walks and drives on Queens Boulevard.

The DOT 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.

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First weekend closure of Jackie Robinson Parkway starts Friday


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The first of six weekend shutdowns affecting segments of the Jackie Robinson Parkway will take place this Friday, according to the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

The parkway’s eastbound lanes between Jamaica Avenue in Brooklyn and the Metropolitan Avenue/Queens Boulevard exit (Exit 6) will be closed from 11 p.m. Friday until 5:30 a.m. the following Monday, June 8.

Westbound lanes, as well as the eastbound section between Exits 6 and 8 (Grand Central Parkway) will remain open.

The closure is required as the state DOT continues its $17 million resurfacing of the five-mile-long roadway between Brooklyn and Kew Gardens. All of the work is being done in phases, with the eastbound side occurring first.

Five additional closures of portions of the parkway will occur later this year, according to the DOT. Parkway segments will also be closed on weeknights from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. the following morning.

Drivers will be advised to use the following designated eastbound detour routes through Cypress Hills, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens:

  • Jamaica Avenue from Pennsylvania Avenue to Forest Parkway;
  • Forest Parkway from Jamaica Avenue to Park Lane South;
  • Park Lane South from Forest Parkway to Metropolitan Avenue; and
  • Metropolitan Avenue from Park Lane South to the Jackie Robinson Parkway.

For more details, visit the state DOT information website or call 511.

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Jackie Robinson Parkway shutdowns begin tonight


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jim Henderson

Portions of the Jackie Robinson Parkway will be closed beginning Monday night as the state Department of Transportation (DOT) begins resurfacing the five-mile-long and winding road between Kew Gardens and Brooklyn.

The work will begin tonight on the eastbound side from the parkway’s Brooklyn terminus at the corner of Jamaica and Pennsylvania avenues to the Cypress Hills Street exit. As reported in the Ridgewood Times, the project will be performed in segments, with the eastbound side completed first.

The $17 million project is expected to be finished in mid-August, barring any weather-related delays. Much of the work will be done during weeknight hours from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. the next morning, but portions of the parkway will be shut down entirely on six weekends, from 11 p.m. Friday to 5:30 a.m. the following Monday.

The first two weekend closures will occur on June 5 through 8 and June 12 through 15. Drivers will be diverted through marked detour routes passing through neighboring Brooklyn, Ridgewood, Glendale, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.

During the project, crews from Tully Construction Company of Flushing — working on behalf of the state DOT — will remove the existing asphalt pavement and repair the concrete roadbed, then apply new asphalt and re-stripe the roadway with new lane markings. Various traffic safety devices, from reflectors to new signage, will also be installed.

“The Jackie Robinson Parkway is a critical connector between Brooklyn and Queens, carrying thousands of commuters each day and supporting the local economy,” state Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said in a statement. “[This] project will give more than 82,000 motorists who use the parkway each day a smoother, safer ride.”

“Motorists who use the Jackie Robinson Parkway can look forward to a better road experience thanks to this paving project and infrastructure enhancement,” added Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who thanked the DOT and Governor Andrew Cuomo “for making the improvement of the parkway a priority.”

Drivers are reminded to travel safely and slowly through work zones; by law, speeding fines are doubled in work zones, and convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone may result in a driver’s license suspension.

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Flushing business owners fight to maintain parking in SBS plan


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce met with representatives of the MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) on May 22 to express their skepticism over the benefits of a proposed Select Bus Service (SBS) line set to run from Flushing to Jamaica.

Small business owners felt the most threatened over the possible impact to parking availability in the area. One of the proposed changes will see the area getting a dedicated bus lane for SBS service, and in some cases possibly displacing lanes currently used for curbside parking.

“I am afraid that losing more business due to parking unavailability will result in my business reducing our staff or worse,” said Andrew Hai, owner of Flushing NAPA Automotive Inc. “We are a small business and need all the customers we can get.”

Although local civic groups were in favor of the SBS plans, they also emphasized the need to maintain parking resources.

“The Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association supports the implementation of SBS,” said the group’s president Don Capalbi, although he did urge the DOT to ensure that parking lanes will be preserved. “Elimination of Main Street parking will decimate our local small business hub and the community they serve.”

Nicole Garcia, the DOT’s Queens commissioner, said officials will continue to work with the chamber to ensure that the needs of businesses will be prioritized in transit system changes.

Select Bus Service is an improved bus service that aims to offer fast, frequent and reliable service on high-ridership bus routes. SBS lines decrease travel time by utilizing off-board fare collection by kiosk, dedicated bus lanes and transit signal priority.

A two-phase study completed in 2006 and 2009 identified Main Street and Kissena/Parsons boulevards between Flushing and Jamaica as corridors that could support and greatly benefit from Select Bus Service. The four bus lines along the two thoroughfares move at overall speeds of under 10 mph, and some are delayed for nearly 50 percent of travel time.

The meeting between transit officials and the chamber is part of the ongoing third round of public outreach for SBS implementation. Open houses will be held this week in both Flushing and Jamaica to solicit additional input from the general public and to discuss street design and bus stop locations.

The Flushing open house will be held in Flushing Town Hall at 137-35 Northern Blvd. on Wednesday, May 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. In Jamaica an open house will be held at the Jamaica LIRR Station Atrium Lobby on Sutphin Boulevard the following night, May 28, from 6 to 8 p.m.

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Jackson Heights residents call National Grid a ‘bad neighbor’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated 5:20 p.m.

Residents on one Jackson Heights street are calling on National Grid to be a good neighbor and take care of “dangerous” holes left unattended for weeks after digging was started last month to work on gas pipe updates.

Councilman Daniel Dromm and residents on 80th Street gathered on the block Tuesday morning to speak out against holes created by the utility company that were left ignored for weeks.

The holes, which measure about 13 feet by 3 feet and go as deep as three to six feet, were dug by National Grid in April to start renovations on underground gas lines. However, residents said that in the beginning of May work just stopped and the holes were left uncovered and surrounded by barriers and cones, most of which fell into the holes.

“The damage they have done to this street makes you understand that National Grid is a bad neighbor. You don’t come into communities, dig up streets, leave piles of dirt and then leave the exposed pipes open to all types of foul play, to children falling into them, and then not respond to the community,” Dromm said. “We are here today to demand that National Grid minimally put plates over this, fix this work, and ensure the safety of the community is taken care of here.”

Dromm added that his office communicated with National Grid several times, but no fixes have been made. The councilman said he even left his personal number and never received a call back.

Some residents expressed concerns that they have seen children playing in the holes, and others said the exposed gas lines have been letting out gaseous odors.

A Courier reporter on the scene also smelled gas odors coming out of one of the holes.

“The unfinished repair work initiated by National Grid on April 17, 2015, has not only resulted in a trip and fall hazard to pedestrians but has made us nervous because we were told originally the construction was to remedy a gas leak,” said Ricky Castro, co-op board vice president. “Despite many complaints we have received no answers about why we smell gas and if it’s safe.”

Castro added that last weekend when it rained, water filled the holes and caused the basement of one of the apartment buildings, which has storage units belonging to residents, to flood.

According to residents, National Grid workers showed up Tuesday morning but no work was being done. They also added that they have called the FDNY, Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection and were told National Grid is responsible for the holes.

A spokeswoman for National Grid said the company is committed  to ensuring the safety of the public.

She added the company is using industry-approved methods to secure the work site and have the appropriate work permits. Also, National Grid is conducting daily surveys of the area to maintain safety until the repairs are completed.

“We apologize for the inconvenience but the work is necessary to ensure a safe and reliable gas system for the community,” the spokeswoman said. “Last month during an investigation we detected a gas leak and made arrangements to schedule the repairs, working around parking restrictions on the block.”

She added the gas lines had been replaced on the street and now each home in three buildings has to be transferred to the new service lines. The company is working to notify everyone in the buildings.

Crews are expected to be on site starting Wednesday through the end of the week to complete the work and have the holes filled.

Residents are urged to call 911 or National Grid’s Gas emergency number, 718-643-4050.

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