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Queens Chronicle

Bypass doesn’t wow biz owners

DOT says drivers need time to adjust; changes remain possible

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Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:10 pm, Thu Oct 20, 2011.

The city warned that it would take time for drivers and the neighborhood to adjust to the new Maspeth Bypass, and more still to tweak any unforeseen problems.

And a little less than two weeks in, patience already is wearing thin for some business owners.

“It’s terrible,” said Dario Tobon, owner of Maurice Services, which sells diesel fuel at the southern point of the triangle where Maspeth Avenue, Maurice Avenue and 58th Street converge.

Tobon said he had misgivings before the new lines, signs and one-way streets were made official.

“But no one told me they were going to put a barricade there,” he said, pointing to the southernmost point of his property. “A lot of my customers are having a hard time getting in here. They used to come directly in. Now they have to get around that. And some of those are 53-foot trucks.”

Effective Oct. 1, the southern terminus of Maurice Avenue became one-way northbound while 58th Street became one-way southbound. Truck traffic from the Long Island Expressway is being diverted to 58th Street along 55th Drive, all as a way to reduce heavy truck traffic along Maspeth’s Grand Avenue commercial corridor.

Tobon said drivers heading west along Maspeth Avenue, who now must head north on Maurice, across 55th Drive and down 58th Street to continue along Maspeth or to access 56th Terrace, have resorted to turning north on Maurice and cutting across his property to skip the three-block detour.

“Now they tell me I need more insurance,” he said.

He said the owners of a nearby deli are complaining too, as is the owner of the Clinton Diner a few hundred feet away.

Diner owner Nick Diamantis this week panned the early results in an e-mail sent to Maura McCarthy, the DOT’s Queens Borough Commissioner.

He said that on day one, at around 1 p.m., he was nearly hit head on by three drivers heading the wrong way on 58th Street, including a city DEP vehicle. He said traffic backups were unprecedented.

McCarthy responded that she too had been out there and confirmed his take.

Alan Rosen, who manufactures Junior’s Cheesecake, wrote McCarthy to say the changes have made it far more difficult to do business and he will eventually leave Queens.

Scott Gastel, a DOT spokesman, said Tuesday that any project with significant changes requires an adjustment period.

“These changes have been in place less than two weeks,” he said in an e-mail. “We continue to monitor the changes and will make any necessary adjustments (such as signal timing).” He said traffic agents will remain on site for the remainder of this week to assist with traffic circulation and to monitor non-compliance.

Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association and a proponent of rerouting trucks away from commercial areas other than local delivery, said it is too early to have feedback from Grand Avenue merchants, and that the bypass alone will not clear up the truck problem.

“We still have a parade of illegal trucks on Grand, bypass or no bypass,” Holden said. He also said that the 53-foot trailers that service some of the complaining businesses are illegal in New York City, as they combine with the cab to exceed the city’s 55-foot bumper-to-bumper regulations.

Holden said the 104th Precinct has made a dent with some truck checkpoints, and he hopes there will be others.

“With the bypass and more enforcement Grand Avenue has the potential to become a commercial district again, and not a freeway for trucks,” he said.

Welcome to the discussion.