Middle Village residents may have to find a new route home this summer. At its monthly meeting, Community Board 5 voted 36 to 4 to close a portion of Eliot Avenue for two month’s of round-the-clock reconstruction work this summer.
City officials hope to upgrade a worn-down portion of the avenue, spanning 1,000 feet from Mount Olivet Crescent to 67th Street. The $1.6 million project will widen the sidewalk on the south side of the roadway in order to make it safer for pedestrians. Additionally, the plan calls for new curbing, sewer lines and a water main.
The approved two-month proposal bested an alternative that would have prolonged work for four months, with crews working from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m every night in order to avoid daily rush-hour traffic.
According to District Manager Gary Giordano, most members opted to close the roadway entirely for two months, because they worried that large barriers erected during nightly construction would obstruct the road during the day and leave the sidewalk dangerously narrow for pedestrians.
“I think people were especially concerned about the difficulties of passage for emergency vehicles, and slow response times,” Giordano explained, adding that the full-time closure option would likely be less of an inconvenience during the summer months, when traffic volumes are lower.
But opponents contended that closing Eliot Avenue would only exacerbate gridlock elsewhere by diverting traffic to congested Metropolitan and Grand avenues.
“You’re going to have problems if you do it one way, and you’re going to have problems if you do it the other,” said Councilman Dennis Gallagher, who initially supported the four-month plan. “Only time will tell whether the board made the right choice.”