Tag Archives: Woodhaven Boulevard

Curbside bus lanes heading to Ozone Park


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The busy traffic corridor of Woodhaven Boulevard in Ozone Park will soon be home to new curbside bus lanes on both sides to help alleviate congestion and make for an overall smoother ride for passengers.

Red painted bus lanes going southbound between 101st Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard and northbound between Plattwood Avenue and Liberty Avenue are set to be installed this fall, according to a DOT representative.

The lanes will serve the Q11, Q21, Q52, Q53 and the QM15 bus lines.

The exclusive lanes also help the buses reach subway connections more quickly without removing any travel lanes, according to the DOT.

The lanes will be “bus-only” for specific periods. Between Liberty Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard going southbound, the lane will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All other sections, going in both directions, will be bus-only during rush hours, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“This part of the boulevard is definitely a problem area,” said Jessica Nizar, a representative from Rider’s Alliance and an advocate for the Bus Rapid Transit for NYC coalition effort. “These lanes will help to alleviate some of the major problems that cause traffic here.”

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Gaping sinkhole in Forest Park worries locals


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Forest Park is home to an 18-hole golf course, but a 19th hole in the park is cause for some concern.

For about two years now, there has been a gaping sinkhole along the entrance path to the park from Woodhaven Boulevard. It was most likely caused by runoff into or deterioration of a catch basin beneath the roadway, according to a representative from the Parks Department.
Locals say it is a major hazard because of where it is situated.

“The sinkhole is right across the street from the carousel, which is a major attraction for children,” said Ed Wendell, a frequent visitor of Forest Park. “It is only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured and everyone starts saying, ‘Why wasn’t this fixed already?’”

The hole is currently barricaded off and has caution tape around it. It takes up almost the whole sidewalk, forcing people to walk in a single-file line to get past it.

The Parks Department is working on plans to fix it.

“Parks is currently assessing the extent of work that will be required to repair this sinkhole and fix its underlying cause,” the representative said. “Once this assessment has been completed, we will procure a contractor to complete this work.”

There was no timeline given on how long it will take to start the work, but Wendell said he is encouraged that something may finally be done about this ongoing safety issue.

“I’m glad they are aware of the problem and looking into it,” Wendell said. “But we will only be relieved when it is finally taken care of.”

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Bus-only lanes coming to Woodhaven Boulevard


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by  Salvatore Licata

Bus-only lanes are to be painted along a 1.4-mile stretch of Woodhaven Boulevard by late September, a representative from the Department of Transportation (DOT) said.

The lanes are being added on Woodhaven Boulevard between Elliot and Metropolitan avenues to help ease congestion on the heavily traveled roadway.

They will be one lane out from the curb which will allow the buses a faster transition when dropping off and picking up riders, according to Joan Byron, director of policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development.

“These [bus-only] lanes are to strictly address the issue of congestion along the boulevard,” Byron said. “With the addition of the one out from the curb lanes, the buses will not have to go in and out anymore which will help to ease the congestion.”

The lane nearest the curb will continue to be used for parking, officials said.

The start date for painting depends on weather conditions and the schedule of other DOT projects, the agency’s representative said.  The painting should take several weeks, weather permitting, the representative added.

The lanes can be used at all times of the day by other vehicles making a right turn.

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Op-ed: The latest attempt to improve safety and reduce aggravation on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards


| oped@queenscourier.com

STATE SEN. JOSEPH P. ADDABBO

Metal structures hanging over sections of Woodhaven Boulevard having been popping up and I continue to hear from constituents with questions as to what they are, what will be done with them and what they can expect for the future of one of the busiest thoroughfares in the borough.

The answer is the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT) newly-implemented initiative, Select Bus Service. Mimicking other cities’ Bus Rapid Transit, Select Bus Service is essentially intended to make riding the bus similar to riding the subway. It incorporates dedicated bus lanes, off-board fare collection and transit signal priority to offer theoretically faster and more reliable service on high-ridership routes, such as those along Woodhaven Boulevard.

The metal poles you see on your daily drives will hold “bus lane” signs, and, according to local news sources, will be activated during peak traffic hours.

Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards collectively transport 30,000 riders each day via public transportation. However, the congestion along this route, especially during rush hour, is enough to make the average driver crazy.

That is why the DOT launched a study on about three miles of Woodhaven Boulevard from Queens Boulevard down to Rockaway Boulevard, from Rego Park, to Woodside, to Arverne, respectively. The study found not only can buses be caught in congestion, creating slow service, and the layout of the street makes bus stops difficult for riders to reach, but these factors and more make Woodhaven Boulevard one of the most dangerous corridors in the city for both drivers and pedestrians.

The study hopes to convert the existing Limited-Stop Q52 and Q53 bus routes to the Select Bus Service, ultimately improving and quickening service. The idea is, if the service is more reliable, commuters will be more willing to use buses over cars. Faster and better service could then potentially reduce traffic along the congested route.

My constituents from surrounding communities have expressed concerns about losing street-side parking, traffic stemming from confusion of the new system and whether Select Bus Service would lead to a reduction of local buses. I am also aware of business owners’ concern about delivery drop-offs and pick-ups, and whether the bus lane will hinder trucks ability to stop curbside.

Along Woodhaven Boulevard between Eliot and Metropolitan Avenue, bus lanes will be offset from the curb and not affect any parking. Curbside bus lanes will run through Plattwood and Liberty Avenues, and Rockaway Boulevard and 101st Avenue.

While there has been no time frame scheduled for the start of the program, the DOT will host its next public meeting in the fall. I will be meeting with the Steering Committee of the Bus Rapid Transit and other transportation advocates to address these concerns before the service becomes permanent.

The idea of this program and a dedicated bus lane has been mentioned numerous times in local papers and community meetings throughout the past year. In early 2013, Select Bus Service was suggested as an option for Woodhaven Boulevard to alleviate the traffic nightmare. In 2012, the DOT implemented a number of short-term enhancements on the route, but Select Bus Service is the long-term answer. The metal structures now popping up are a sign of this program moving forward. I encourage my constituents to let me know of their concerns and how they believe the new system would work. Only by working together, we will see improvement on both Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards.

 

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Man slits Woodhaven woman’s throat in failed subway mugging


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Hazel Puenespina

Updated Friday, July 25, 9:30 p.m.

A Woodhaven woman was at an Elmhurst subway station when a man grabbed her from behind, put her in a headlock and cut her throat open before running away with her purse, police said.

“I never imagined anything this brutal would happen to me in my life,”  said Hazel Puentespina, 32. “I was terrified for my life and I thought I was going to die right there.”

The attacker approached Puentespina from behind on the platform of the Woodhaven Boulevard E/M/R train station at 11:25 p.m. on July 12, according to police.

He then forced her down to the ground and used a blade taped to a screwdriver to cut the lower right side of Puentespina’s neck, missing her main artery by a few inches, cops said.

“It all happened so fast. I knew I was being robbed but then I felt my throat stinging,” Puentespina said. ” That’s when I knew something else was happening.”

The assailant then ran off with her bag, which contained less than $50.

Only one straphanger was willing to get involved, a man on the platform who kicked the attacker down, Puentespina said.

“Everyone just stood around and watched me while my own blood soaked me,” she said.

The attacker was able to get away but he left the weapon and purse behind, according to police.

Puentespina was taken to the Elmhurst Hospital where she was given 15 stitches. She was released from the hospital the next day, according to a spokeswoman for the hospital.

“The doctor said I was lucky to be alive,” Puentaspina said, explaining that if the assailant had cut a little further up, her main artery would’ve been hit.

The police described the attacker as 5 foot 10 inches with  short, black hair.  No one has been arrested in connection with the attack.

Puentespina said she hopes to go to law school in the future and wants to put the attack behind her.

“I want to move on with my life and this guy needs to be caught for that to happen,” she said.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the incident happened at the Woodhaven Boulevard J/Z station. 

 

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What to do if there is an LIRR strike


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Metropolitan Transportation Authority


Subways, shuttle buses, and even ferries– the MTA is pulling out all the stops to supplement LIRR service in case 5,400 workers strike starting on July 20.

As contract negotiations with unions continue to fall apart and the impending LIRR strike draws closer each day, the MTA released its contingency plan Friday to address the 300,000 riders that would be stranded daily with the loss of the train service.

Most of the MTA’s plans focus on Long Island customers, but there are resources and tips for riders from Queens and other boroughs.

There will be 4,000 free, secured parking spots at Citi Field and an additional 3,000 spots at Aqueduct Racetrack, where drivers can drop their cars and then take the No. 7 or A trains to work. Through social media and digital platforms, such as Twitter and a LIRR mobile app, agency officials plan to update riders on how many spots are available in the lots and traffic conditions.

The transportation agency also hired 350 school buses, which lack air condition, to shuttle riders from stations in Long Island to the No. 7 train near Citi Field, the A train in Howard Beach, and also the M and R train station on Woodhaven Boulevard. The buses will run from Long Island into Queens between 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. and return to Long Island from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

There will also be ferry rides that can carry 1,000 passengers per day from Glen Cove to 34th Street in Manhattan on 40 minute rides. But the MTA warns that parking near to the ferry is very limited.

The MTA is encouraging riders to telecommute if they can work from home. According to officials, about 18,000 workers already plan to do so.

Through its free lots and shuttle buses, the transportation agency estimates it can handle about 15,000 passengers daily, more than double the 7,000 passengers daily from the 1994 LIRR strike contingency plan.

“When the LIRR unions went on strike in 1994, Long Islanders had very limited options. There were no park-and-ride lots, no ferries, no real-time monitoring, no telecommuting,” said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast. “Today, the MTA has a far stronger, more robust, multifaceted plan. Working with the state and elected officials from across Long Island and the city of New York, we are providing more shuttle buses, thousands of parking spots near subway stations, a ferry service, real-time traffic management and real-time parking monitoring.”

The MTA doesn’t yet know how much per day the contingency plan will cost, and officials said they hope not to have to use it.

For more details on the plan, click here.

 

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Proposed Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Boulevard met with skepticism


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Woodhaven residents are bracing for a plan to bring Select Bus Service to one of New York City’s largest vehicle corridors, Woodhaven Boulevard.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering the boulevard, which is bordered by Queens Boulevard in the north and Rockaway Boulevard to the south, as a candidate for the next area in New York City to have Select Bus Service (SBS).

Members of the neighborhood met on Monday with the nonprofit organization Riders Alliance to prepare for a workshop on June 25 with the DOT, where the community will be invited to help create an express bus service that will shorten the travel time for bus commuters on the 3.2 mile boulevard.

Kenichi Wilson, who has lived in Woodhaven for 33 years and is the chairman of the Community Board 9 transportation committee, believes that not much will come out of meeting with the DOT.

“They’re doing it and that’s that,” he said.

But the Riders Alliance believes that with enough community participation, the city agency will tailor the express bus service to the area’s specific needs.

Wilson stressed that the area is filled with many businesses that would be negatively affected if the DOT creates lanes dedicated to the buses because it would prevent delivery trucks from double parking in front of businesses on the boulevard.

“I have nothing against it except for having dedicated lanes doesn’t alleviate congestion for everyone. That’s not playing fair,” said Wilson, who is a local business owner. “I have a lot of friends who are restaurant owners who are concerned over deliveries.”

According to a report by the DOT, dedicated bus lanes aren’t the only solution. “Ideas for consideration could include physically-separated bus lanes, center-running (as opposed to curb-running) bus lanes, and use of rail and highway rights-of-way,” the report states.

And Wilson believes that unlike other areas — like Harlem — where SBS has been implemented, bus lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard would not only be unnecessary but would actually increase traffic and congestion, something the express bus service is meant to alleviate.

“It’s not alleviating congestion. It’s actually going to create more congestion,” he said and noted that most of Woodhaven Boulevard doesn’t suffer from bumper-to-bumper traffic. “They’re implementing bus lanes in non-congested areas. That doesn’t make sense.”

 

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Four Queens streets among region’s most dangerous for pedestrians: report


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

As Mayor Bill de Blasio and other local leaders push to lower traffic deaths, a new report has identified four Queens roadways as some of the most dangerous  for pedestrians in downstate New York.

The analysis, from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit policy watchdog organization, found that from 2010 to 2012, Woodhaven Boulevard had the most pedestrian deaths with eight fatalities.

It was ranked sixth overall out of 12 counties in downstate New York and the second worst in the city, behind Broadway in Manhattan.

Tied with the 14th most deaths were Union Turnpike, Queens Boulevard and Northern Boulevard, which had five fatalities each.

Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard, nicknamed the “Boulevard of Death,” were new to the list this year.

Over the weekend four pedestrians, including a 7-year-old girl, were struck in a hit-and-run at a bus stop on Northern Boulevard and 48th Street.

An 8-year-old Woodside boy was killed on his way to school in December when a truck driver, who was operating his vehicle on a suspended license, hit him at the intersection of 61st Street and Northern Boulevard.

On Jan. 15, with the child’s family at his side, de Blasio launched his Vision Zero initiative at the boy’s school.

The mayor and his administration is launching an interagency working group, together with the NYPDDepartment of TransportationDepartment of Health and Mental Hygiene and Taxi & Limousine Commission, to implement the plan, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

Nearly 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred on arterial roadways, multi-lane roads that often have speed limits of 40 mph or more and little pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign analysis.

“These findings make it clear once again that we need to redesign our most dangerous arterial corridors,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. “We can save lives by building complete streets with protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks and pedestrian safety islands.”

 

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Transit committee finds new support for restarting Rockaway Beach Line


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Jeff Liao

One by one, members of the Queens Public Transit Committee (QPTC), an organization focused on improving transportation in the borough, thanked Community Board 5 (CB5) last week.

The board voted to support the idea of restarting the defunct Rockaway Beach Line last month, in part to help ease traffic congestion issues on major thoroughfares, such as Woodhaven Boulevard.

The news was significant for QPTC, because the 3.5-mile trail could also be transformed into a park.

“Getting more people like CB5 is tremendous because they realize overcrowding is becoming a major problem,” said Phil McManus, chair of the QPTC.

In November of last year, Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, who has voiced support for a new train, announced that Queens College will be doing a study of both the train and park ideas.

The Friends of the QueensWay (FQW), a group made up of residents that live near the trail who are pushing to transform the former rail line into a public green space, has argued against restarting the line.

“After over five decades of abandonment and multiple studies concluding that rail reactivation is not feasible, the time has come to utilize the over 50 acres of land that make up the QueensWay,” according to a statement from FQW. “As evidence shows, rebuilding this abandoned land will dramatically improve the quality of life, create jobs and safer streets, and highlight the incredible history and cultural diversity of central and southern Queens.”

FQW also said that the new park will have a much needed bike path, which could be used for transportation.

Not everyone has taken a side though. Members of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) would like to see formal proposals, instead of making a decision on speculation.

“We want to make sure a lot of concerns are answered. Can’t say that we are for or against,” said Martin Colberg, president of the WRBA.

McManus said the QPTC isn’t opposed to doing both ideas in some capacity, but a FQW representative said that isn’t a possibility.

“I just don’t see that as being realistic,” said Travis Terry, a member of FQW Steering Committee. “I wouldn’t even like to consider that option until there is some proof.”

 

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Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant set to close after nearly 70 years


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A beloved Queens eatery that has fed generations for nearly 70 years will soon be serving up its last course.

Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant, a neighborhood fixture at 62-96 Woodhaven Boulevard, will close March 2, as longtime owners prepare for retirement.

“We just want to sit back for a little while, relax and breathe the fresh air,” said owner John Abbracciamento, 60 . “It’s bittersweet. But, basically, it’s time.”

The Italian eatery opened in 1948 under Abbracciamento’s father, Joe. Over time, it became a staple in the borough.

“We’ve taken care of people from the day they were born,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s a wonderful treat to be a part of their lives and some of the most important occasions that they would celebrate. We will sadly miss that part of it.”

Abbracciamento has known the restaurant life since he was 13.

It was not an easy decision to put it to rest after the baton was passed down to him from his late father, Abbracciamento said. But it was a necessary one.

“It was my father’s dream,” he said. “My brother and I kept it going. But I’ve just come to the point in my life where I just need some time to clear my head and move forward.”

“We had a nice, long run — a very successful run,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s just time to just relax a little bit.”

Longtime patrons said the loss of the local icon is a blow to the Queens dining scene and to the community.

“I’m sad. I’ve known them for 30 years,” said Leon Sorin. “They’ve been working hard for many years. Maybe it’s time.”

John Harrington, 73, has been coming for the “out of this world” lasagna for 38 years.

“I was shocked when I heard it was closing,” he said. “It’s a shame because you don’t have any good restaurants around.”

Ed Wendell, a lifelong Queens resident, called the restaurant “the go-to place” for Italian cuisine.

“It’s one of those places where a lot of people are going to look back now and say, ‘Man, I wish I had gone more,’” he said. “It will be missed.”

 

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Police looking for suspect in deadly Woodhaven hit-and-run


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Updated December 7, 3:57 p.m.

Police are looking for a suspect who fatally struck a man in Woodhaven Friday morning.

The victim, 35-year-old Yunior Antonio Perez Rodriguez, of Brooklyn, was struck by a car around 3:15 a.m. while attempting to cross Woodhaven Boulevard at Jamaica Avenue, said cops.

Rodriguez sustained severe trauma and was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police said they are looking for the driver, who was possibly driving a white Honda sedan and did not remain on the scene.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Woodhaven Boulevard safety still in flux


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The city’s five-year study on Woodhaven Boulevard safety improvements show some solutions worked better than others.

The thoroughfare, which connects Middle Village, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, among others, is one of the most trafficked in the borough and is prone to many accidents, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

DOT officials collected feedback from residents and community leaders on the results of the study at a meeting on November 21.

“They have been very cooperative. They have accepted feedback, and they are trying to do the best that they can,” said Community Board 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri Jr. “I think we need to concentrate on the areas that seem that they’ll never be resolved and come up with out-of-the box solutions.”

Within the last three years, the DOT has implemented some ideas to reduce accidents on Woodhaven Boulevard, like extending sidewalks and medians in the stretch from Queens Boulevard to 62nd Road, which gave pedestrians more space.

The DOT also made the southbound traffic on the service road at the intersection of Union Turnpike and Woodhaven Boulevard a “must turn right” lane in 2011. In 2012, they shrunk the two lanes of the service road into one because it was too narrow.

These solutions had varying results.

Woodhaven Boulevard from Queens Boulevard to 62nd Road had a total of 293 crashes from 2011 to 2012, up from an average of 254 accidents per year before the solutions were implemented, according to NYPD data.

However, accidents at Union Turnpike and Woodhaven Boulevard have decreased 29 percent to an average of 64 from 90 per year, according to the same data.

For future improvements, the DOT plans to change the service road on both sides on Woodhaven Boulevard between Atlantic Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard into one lane of traffic and one parking lane. Currently, from one parking lane and two narrow lanes for traffic.

The department is also planning to create a dedicated bus lane on the northbound side, from the Belt Parkway to Liberty Avenue.

Some people felt more could be done on Woodhaven Boulevard. Not everyone at the meeting believed the solutions were assured to reduce accidents.

“The solutions are, in my opinion, theoretical,” said Community board 9 Chair Jim Cocovillo. “On paper, they are designed to work, but you know as well as I do that many times they don’t.”

After analyzing feedback from the community, the DOT will begin preparing to make the improvements for next year and continue to monitor the troubled thoroughfare.

 

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Lew Simon wins 32nd Council District primary, prepares for general election against Ulrich


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEW SIMON CAMPAIGN

Lew Simon, Democratic District leader, is officially the party’s candidate to race to claim the seat in City Council District 32. He will face incumbent Councilmember Eric Ulrich in the November general election.

Simon declared victory after receiving 65.1 percent of the votes over his opponent, William Ruiz, according to unofficial results.

“We have to make it to November,” Simon said election night, September 10. “We’ll be back out there early in the morning.”

The race is reflective of the 2009 City Council special election in which the Rockaway civic leader and Ulrich originally faced off for this very seat.

“Lew will be a very formidable opponent,” Ulrich said. “I look forward to having a very in depth and robust debate about the future of our community.”

If elected, Simon said first and foremost his priority is to rebuild after Sandy devastated the district, which comprises of the majority of the Rockaway Peninsula as well as South Richmond Hill, Howard Beach, South Ozone Park and Woodhaven.

“Everybody has let us down. We keep hearing FEMA money is coming, build-it-back money is coming,” he said. “Everyone is frustrated and I want to cut through the red tape.”

He also hopes to address the hospital and medical crisis as well as keep the Rockaway Ferry line subsidized and potentially include a pick-up point in Howard Beach.

Simon additionally said transportation is a rampant issue throughout the district, including Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards. To alleviate the “abysmal” traffic, Simon said he wants to create an HOV carpool lane to be used during peak hours.

Ulrich too has a “very ambitious and bold plan” to relieve traffic congestion on Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards in order to “put public transportation back on the fast track,” among his hopes in another term.

District 32 has been led by Ulrich for the past four years, and he said he is looking forward to building on his standing record of accomplishments.

“I feel very optimistic and I’m very proud of everything that I’ve done for my constituents, and I want to continue to work for them in the City Council,” he said.

Regarding his opponent, Simon said he’s “very energetic, very excited” to head to November’s election.

“After this big win, I think it should send a clear message that I’m a serious candidate to challenge the incumbent,” he said. “Some people laughed it off, but I think my numbers speak for themselves.”

Vacant Rego Park building becomes eyesore


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

A vacant building in Rego Park has some complaining that the structure is a major eyesore.

The commercial strip on Woodhaven Boulevard, between 63rd Road and Dana Court, has rental signs along its windows.

Until recently, scaffolding covered almost the entire block.

“Of course there’s a problem,” a source said. “There’s been problems for years.”

The source, granted anonymity, who identified himself as a former employee of Bridie’s, a bar and grill on the boulevard, said scaffolding had covered the entire block for more than a year-and-a-half. He said the structure was intended for work on nearby apartment buildings, but repairs were ever conducted.

A business last called the building home about four or five years ago, the source said. Bridie’s, the only establishment on the block, has suffered, the former employee added.

The For Rent signs that cover the windows advertise “restaurant, medical, retail, or office space.” Calls to the phone number on the signs reach an automated message system.

Keystone Management, a California-based real estate company, controls the building under High Point Associates LLC, according to a Department of Buildings (DOB) spokesperson. Representatives for Keystone, owned by developer Daniel

Shalom, had not returned calls for comment by The Courier as of press time.

The vacant building has received a number of violations from the DOB and the Environmental Control Board (ECB), in recent years.

It has four unresolved ECB violations, according to the DOB spokesperson. These deal with plumbing work without a permit, failure to maintain a boiler, maintaining building walls and miscellaneous boiler problems.

 

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Op-Ed: Putting Woodhaven Boulevard on the fast track


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMEMBER ERIC ULRICH

For the past decade, Woodhaven Boulevard has been a traffic nightmare. The daily commute during the morning and evening rush hours is sluggish at best. Whether you’re in a car or on a bus, the slow and painful crawl up and down Woodhaven Boulevard is sure to make your daily commute even more stressful and time consuming.

Since taking office, I have been working with the Department of Transportation to alleviate traffic congestion along Woodhaven Boulevard and have suggested a number of measures which I believe would make a big difference. Here are just a few:

  • I am committed to bringing the deployment of Transit Signal Priority (TSP) to this corridor. TSP will improve travel time for all vehicles by optimizing overall traffic signal coordination, resulting in a 5%-10% decrease in overall travel time. This system can, for instance, hold the green light a little longer to allow buses and cars to proceed through an intersection before the traffic signal turns red. TSP is already operating in Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan. I am fighting to bring it to Queens.
  • Implementing Select Bus Service (SBS) along the 3.2 mile route would also have a significant impact. This is a bold initiative that would establish a dedicated bus lane for express and local buses only. It would speed up the average commute time for bus riders by 15-20% and prevent the bottlenecking situation that occurs at almost every major intersection along the boulevard. SBS is more commonly referred to as Bus Rapid Transit and already exists on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island, First / Second Avenues in Manhattan and Fordham Road in the Bronx. Woodhaven Boulevard is ripe for this proposal and I am looking forward to the day it comes to Queens.
  • Site specific improvements at certain intersections are long overdue. There are turning lanes that need to be widened or extended and others that need to be eliminated altogether. This is a delicate process that will require the advice and consent of the local community. Nevertheless, it is one that must be part of our overall strategy to make Woodhaven Blvd. safer for drivers, mass transit users and pedestrians alike. When done correctly, modifications such as these can reduce traffic related injuries dramatically and help the overall flow of traffic.

The DOT has already made some progress by incorporating some of the above-mentioned ideas into the Citywide Congested Corridor study. In fact, data has been collected, traffic patterns and accident prone locations have been analyzed and several public meetings have been held to discuss possible solutions since the study first started in 2008. Some of these proposals are common sense and easy to implement while others are all but certain to raise controversy.

But the fact remains that people have been sitting in traffic for far too long and Queens is entitled to what every other borough already has. If we’re serious about addressing the traffic nightmare on Woodhaven Boulevard once and for all, we must take the necessary steps to put this plan into action.

Eric Ulrich was elected to the New York City Council in 2009, as the representative for District 32, serving Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill, and Woodhaven.