BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Many of those gathered at the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) town hall meeting on Saturday voiced their opposition to plans for Select Bus Service (SBS) plan along the Woodhaven Boulevard corridor in the months ahead.
“Something is going to happen. There will be Select Bus Service,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “But for those of us who live in and around Woodhaven Boulevard, we will live with whatever they do here. We have to be heard.”
Many residents expressed concerns over the loss of a lane, as well as the loss of parking along Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South, under the DOT’s current SBS plan.
“I don’t believe removing the right lane of traffic is correct,” Addabbo added. “Putting people in the median to wait for buses is not safe. It’s a bad plan.”
Others feared the ban on left-hand turns onto Jamaica Avenue will not only hurt businesses along the busy shopping strip, but would also increase traffic on narrow residential side streets.
“Think of the two schools on 89th Street,” Addabbo added. The senator fears that local streets could become thruways and truck routes for vehicles seeking to avoid congestion on Woodhaven Boulevard potentially caused by the SBS changes.
“The one thing we said from day one is that something has to be done,” explained WRBA president Martin Colberg. “But what works in one community is not always going to work in another. There has to be a line where it has to stop here and we have to rethink this.”
Jose Vasquez, president of the task force known as Committee for a Better Woodhaven, began a petition in opposition to SBS and has since collected over 80 signatures from residents. Vasquez collected more signatures at the WRBA meeting and plans to present his petition to the DOT and the MTA at the next Community Board 9 meeting.
Addabbo applauded his efforts and urged residents to write similar letters so that their voices can be heard.
“We’re a smart-thinking community,” Colberg said. “We’re not going to let anything just be shoved down our throats. That’s not going to happen. I understand the mayor wants something done in terms of SBS, but then I invite the mayor to come to Woodhaven and see how this going to affect us.”
According to Addabbo, the DOT aims to finalize their SBS plans for Woodhaven Boulevard by the end of the fall.
“There will be a follow-up meeting to address concerns before the plan is finalized,” added Gregory Mitchell of Council member Eric Ulrich’s office.