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Queens Chronicle

Crumbling islands worry residents

Situation has continued for at least 12 years along Union Turnpike

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:56 am, Thu May 22, 2014.

Residents of Hollis Hills and nearby communities are wondering why the traffic islands on Union Turnpike never get repaired and yet adjacent streets in good condition are being repaved.

“It doesn’t make sense,” said Zion Halili, president of the Hollis Hills Civic Association and a member of Community Board 11. “We have been asking the Department of Transportation for 12 years to fix the islands and nothing happens. Now they are repaving streets in good condition.”

The traffic islands are located between Springfield Boulevard and Hollis Hills Terrace. The curbs are crumbling and much of the metal rebar designed to hold the concrete in place is exposed.

“The DOT has inspected the area, but nothing is being done,” Halili said. “It’s dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.”

Three years ago, the DOT shaved some of the rebars for safety purposes, but they are still exposed and potentially dangerous.

Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) agrees. “It’s an ongoing issue with the curbs,” Weprin said. “It’s very expensive to fix and not a big priority for the DOT.”

He considers the issue “a major concern” and believes the city should pay for fixing it.

Meanwhile, other streets in the neighborhood, including 222nd, 223rd and 218th streets and 85th Avenue, are in the process of being repaved. Halili says members of his civic have complained that the work is unnecessary and they would rather see the money go to fix the traffic islands.

Weprin said the DOT has already started milling the street in front of PS 188 without notifying officials “and the principal went crazy when she found out.” The councilman called the agency and got a compromise: DOT will work from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and be finished by the time school is out, thus not interfering with student pickups.

Susan Seinfeld, district manager of CB 11, said she has been told the DOT rates work on a number system and considers the streets in question to be “close to needing to be repaved.”

She is well aware of the crumbling traffic islands and says they are the No. 1 priority of the community board. The estimated cost to repair them is $776,000.

“I don’t know why work is not done to fix them,” Seinfeld added, noting that her office has received many complaints about the problem and that Weprin has reached out to the agency without success.

Halili has been told in the past that there is no money for the repairs and said that lately the DOT is not responding to any of his messages seeking assistance.

Nicole Garcia, spokeswoman for the DOT, indicated that safety is its top priority “and the agency will inspect the location and address any immediate safety concerns as needed.

“For fuller repairs, these medians require a capital project to reconstruct them,” she added. “DOT is in touch with the Council member and the community board about ways we can work together to plan and schedule a future capital project to address the medians.”

She said the locations will be reinspected to see if additional adjustments can be made, but provided no comment on the street repavings.

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