Tag Archives: DOT

Street resurfacing slated for Community Board 5


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 25, 4:25 p.m.

Street resurfacing may be coming to south Middle Village and other nearby areas, but the roadways are still in need of a complete and long overdue overhaul.

All of the streets, except for one, within the area south of Metropolitan Avenue, east of 73rd Place, north of Cooper Avenue and west of 80th Street are currently on the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) tentative priority list for repaving, but it has not yet been confirmed if they will be approved, according to Vincent Arcuri, chair of Community Board 5 (CB 5).

CB 5 has been trying to get a complete reconstruction of the area for the better part of two decades.

“We have been advocating to get these streets done for the last 20 years,” Arcuri said, “but we have had very little success. I can’t understand why. Middle Village is a hard-working, middle-class community that deserves this from the city.”

A full reconstruction of the streets would include replacing the underground sewer systems, a repaving of the streets, rebuilding curbs and walkways and more.

The DOT has offered to resurface the streets, a far cry from the full project CB 5 has been asking for. A resurfacing project would include the milling of the roadway — a process in which the top layer of asphalt is removed from the street — followed by the application of the new asphalt, with no work done to the underground utility lines.

“We are having mixed reactions about it,” Arcuri said of the DOT’s resurfacing plans. “Do we let the people suffer and wait to try and get a full reconstruction, or do we take the resurfacing which would postpone any other construction for at least five years?”


If the project is accepted by the DOT, it will begin in October or November, with a completion date near 2020, Arcuri said.

“The city has put together a plan to address these dangerous infrastructure flaws in south Middle Village. But when the city keeps delaying the ground breaking of such a plan, it is both unfair and negligent,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “This project is a long time coming and is needed by hardworking taxpayers. Once complete, we will have a safer and more livable community in Middle Village.”

Along with these Middle Village streets, several others within the confines of CB 5 are on the DOT’s tentative resurfacing list.

That list includes the following:

  • 58th Place between Maspeth and Grand avenues in Maspeth;
  • Stanhope Street between Grandview and Seneca avenues in Ridgewood;
  • 63rd Street between 59th Drive and Flushing Avenue in Maspeth;
  • 83rd Street between Cooper and Doran avenues in Glendale;
  • Rutledge Avenue between Woodhaven Boulevard and 88th Street in Glendale;
  • Palmetto Street between Fairview and Forest avenues in Ridgewood;
  • And several more.

Once confirmed, all street resurfacings are scheduled to begin this October or November.

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More weekend closures scheduled for Jackie Robinson Parkway


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Get ready for another round of weekend shutdowns on the Jackie Robinson Parkway.

Portions of the eastbound section of the parkway between Pennsylvania Avenue and the Van Wyck Expressway will be closed as needed beginning tonight at 11 p.m. and continuing until 8 a.m. Saturday morning. Road closures will also occur each weeknight between Aug. 17 to 20 from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. the following morning; and from 11 p.m. on Aug. 21 until 8 a.m. on Aug. 22.

According to the state Department of Transportation, the closure is required as work crews replace signs and guardrails and install mow strips on the roadbed.

The DOT is currently resurfacing the entire stretch of the 5-mile roadway between Kew Gardens and Brooklyn at a cost of $17 million. Work is being done in phases; crews will turn to the westbound lanes once resurfacing on the eastbound side is complete.

Drivers are advised to use the following designated eastbound detour routes through Cypress Hills, Woodhaven, Glendale, 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.

Visit the DOT’s website or call 511 for further details.

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Flushing civic group objects to permanent street closing for pedestrian plaza


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

Updated Wednesday Aug. 5

A proposal to close off street traffic for a pedestrian plaza off Flushing‘s Northern Boulevard was met with opposition from neighborhood groups concerned that the change will worsen existing congestion and traffic problems.

The Korean American Association in Queens (KAAQ) is working to place a pedestrian plaza adjacent to a small park known as Leonard Square. The proposal will close off traffic at all times on Roosevelt Avenue between 155th Street and Northern Boulevard.

The plan was submitted to the DOT in the winter of 2014, and a public workshop was held on April 16 to solicit public feedback. A trial street closure on April 18 was deemed a success by the KAAQ after they received no resident complaints.

The overall contention against the project, however, comes from members of the Broadway Flushing Homeowners Association, which charged that it would worsen traffic congestion and cause safety concerns.

“We already have enough traffic and problems with too much congestion. [Closing] another street is only going to add to that and we need every artery,” said Janet McCreesh, a former president of the homeowners group.

McCreesh also asserted that there were more appropriate sites for community gathering spots nearby, such as Bowne Park, which is 0.4 mile away.

“How safe and clean will it be to encourage people to sit in between Northern Boulevard and one of the biggest and busiest parking lots in the neighborhood?” McCreesh asked.

Members of the association have voted to send another letter to Community Board 7, which may publicly discuss the issue as soon as Sept. 21.

Councilman Paul Vallone, a supporter who is working with the KAAQ on the project, recalled a similar plaza successfully established in Douglaston, and said that he expects the same benefits for the community around Leonard Square.

“Any group, such as the Korean-American Association of Queens, is able to apply to the city to maintain a pedestrian plaza with the goal of creating an open area for everyone to sit, rest, socialize and enjoy public space,” Vallone said. “I also believe this plaza will have a positive effect on safety and combat the clear history of traffic incidents at this very congested site.”

Paul Yoo, president of the KAAQ, believes the homeowners association objected to the proposal because they are misinformed on its potential effect on neighborhood parking and traffic. While around 8 to 10 spots of street parking would be lost if the street were blocked off, the KAAQ is working with the DOT to come up with alternative solutions to retain parking in the neighborhood.

 

IMG_0397

Yoo said that if the Broadway Flushing Homeowners Association had made an effort to reach out to the KAAQ, they could have collaborated to make compromises.

“They didn’t come to the workshop. They haven’t seen the work we’re doing,” said Yoo. “They didn’t contact us. They should come and talk to us.”

The next trial street closing of Roosevelt Avenue between 155th and Northern Boulevard is planned for Friday, Aug. 7, and will have festivities such as clowns, a bouncy castle, face-painting, balloons and stilt walkers to call attention to the initiative.

Editors note: An earlier version misidentified Janet McCreesh as the president of the Broadway Flushing Homeowners Association, and incorrectly listed the date of the Community Board 7 meeting in which this issue will be discussed. We apologize for any confusion.

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First Queens Citi Bike station debuts in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A longtime dream for Long Island City residents finally came true as Citi Bike made its grand entrance into the neighborhood and Queens for the first time.

Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, the Department of Transportation and local elected officials and leaders gathered Wednesday afternoon to cut the ribbon on the borough’s first-ever Citi Bike station located on Center Boulevard right on the waterfront.

This station, which is the first of 12 in Long Island City, is part of the Citi Bike expansion announced last October which 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.

“New Yorkers love Citi Bike. It has transformed the way we get around. It’s providing an alternative that doesn’t just move, but it moves and it changes at the pace of our city,” said Jay Walder, president and CEO of Motivate. “But now we will see the real potential of Citi Bike as it moves out to more communities and more New Yorkers can experience the freedom of bike share from Long Island City and Astoria, to Bed Stuy and Gowanus, Red Hook, Harlem and many other places.”

There will be 91 new stations installed by the end of the summer during the first phase of the expansion, which also includes stations in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.

Stations in Long Island City, which will be installed in the next couple of weeks, will be found in locations such as by the Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av subway station, in front of MoMa PS1, next to the LIC Flea & Food and by Queensboro Plaza. There will also be a station by the Queensbridge Houses.

“We never ever stopped believing that this could happen because it’s good for Queens and if it’s good for Queens its good for New York City,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “This is a tremendous victory [not only] for Long Island City but for all of Queens. It is one that we never ever gave up on. This is a dream come true. This moment is a dream come true.”

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.

Once all stations are installed by the end of the summer, the DOT and Motivate will begin the community outreach and planning process for the next phase of expansion, which includes stations in Astoria.

“The inclusion of Long Island City was a long time coming but I am glad it has finally arrived. Bike share will allow 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. “I am thrilled to see western Queens given the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of Citi Bike and look forward to its further expansion into more of our neighborhoods.”

Along with the expansion, Motivate has 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.

To celebrate the program’s expansion, Citi Bike is offering a $25 discount, up until Aug. 31, to new members. For more information visit www.citibikenyc.com/expansion.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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(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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