Supporters of the Maspeth Truck Bypass project worked and waited for 10 years.
And with last week’s approval by Community Board 5, the Department of Transportation is expected to begin work on new signs and road striping this summer.
“I would certainly say it is a victory,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
The move is designed to steer large trucks away from the Grand Avenue business area. Maurice Avenue and 58th Street will become one-way roads, with southbound trucks being routed down 58th, and northbound traffic going up Maurice.
The changes also are expected to ease traffic problems at the five-way intersection where Maspeth Avenue turns south.
Tony Nunziato, a former board member, said the move should have no negative impact on residents or Grand Avenue businesses, and that it will not affect local companies that depend on heavy trucks for deliveries.
“It won’t affect businesses, and residential streets will be saved from heavy traffic,” he said.
Not everyone agrees, however.
Pat Coyne’s family has owned Pat’s Service Station on the corner of Rust Street and 58th Road for nearly 60 years. He has been a vocal critic of the plan, saying anything that diverts any traffic away from businesses and merchants on the affected streets is a potential problem.
He said several neighboring owners feel the same way.
“We’re still concerned,” he said Tuesday. “It was railroaded through whether we wanted it or not. They call it a bypass, but what are they bypassing? Why change it? You could just enforce the [traffic] laws we already have.”
Nunziato and Holden said they have assurances from the DOT that its study took businesses into account, and that the city will keep its word.
“The DOT said this will not harm businesses, and they’re supposed to be the professionals,” Nunziato said. “We don’t want businesses hurt either, so we’ll be keeping an eye on them.”
The DOT has promised to monitor the effects and will make adjustments if necessary.
In a statement released from her officelast Thursday, Assemblywoman Marge Markey(D-Maspeth) saluted CB 5.
“Moving this plan forward after a decade of struggle is good news for the shoppers, seniors and school children who use Grand Avenue, and for the air quality along the street and in the adjacent residential areas,” she said.
The assemblywoman also praised the DOT for taking care to balance the interests of all stakeholders in the area, both residential and commercial.
Markey, Holden and Nunziato all paid tribute to the late Frank Principe, the former CB 5 Chairman who was dedicated to the project from the beginning.
“I can still remember Frank and Tony sitting down there at the corner counting the trucks that went through there,” he said.
“I wish Frank was here to see this,” Nunziato said.