The Maspeth Bypass plan that went into effect two years ago doesn’t seem to be doing much. Residents, elected officials and civic leaders are reporting truck after truck ignoring truck route signs to avoid traffic on the Long Island Expressway.
“It’s ridiculous, they just come speeding down here,” Heather O’Reilly, a Maspeth resident, said. “These aren’t just little delivery trucks either. I’m talking 12, 18, 20 wheelers that are driving down our streets.”
Truck traffic in Maspeth has been an ongoing issue for years, even more so after it resulted in the death of a 12-year-old boy in August 2012, who was biking along Fresh Pond Road.
In an effort to bring attention to the issue, the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together civic association will be holding a rally to protest the illegal truck traffic.
“Trucks are barreling through here everyday and there’s not consistent enforcement,” COMET President Roe Daraio said. “Summonses are issued but most of the time they’re just a slap on the wrist.”
COMET isn’t alone in the fight to improve Maspeth streets. Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) has been working with city agencies as well.
“Since being elected, I worked with community residents and the Department of Transportation to prevent trucks from cutting through our neighborhoods with the Maspeth Bypass, which was part of an overall plan to reduce truck traffic on our streets,” she said in a statement. “I will continue working with civic groups like COMET to reduce truck traffic and I have pushed the DOT and NYPD to increase signage, update their truck maps and increase enforcement.”
Issues with the city DOT website have also caused problems as they have yet to update the truck route map on their website showing the Maspeth Bypass despite it being implemented more than a year ago.
“The Grand Avenue Truck Bypass was a good first step toward reducing commercial truck traffic in Maspeth, but a lot more enforcement needs to take place in order to keep the trucks away,” community activist Christina Wilkinson said. “It’s bad enough that the LIE cuts through the heart of town; it’s time to stop letting Grand Avenue be used as an alternative truck highway.”
In order to evade traffic on the LIE, trucks not making local deliveries exit onto Grand Avenue and continue onto Flushing Avenue.
According to the Maspeth Bypass plan, trucks are supposed to get off the Express way at 58th Street, turn left onto Rust Street and continue onto Flushing Avenue from there. But they often don’t.
“The bypass has been put into effect which is great but now it’s a matter of tweaking,” Daraio said. “What we’re looking for is better signage and for the NYPD to provide the 104th Precinct with support units that are trained and equipped to conduct full-scale motor carrier truck enforcement. Not just every once in a while; we want it on a regular basis.”
The COMET rally will commence at 8 a.m. on June 20 at the intersection of 64th Street and Grand Avenue. It will conclude at 10 a.m.