Queens Department of Transportation Commissioner Connie Moran and Congressman Joseph Crowley don’t need to tell locals that the intersection of Broadway and Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights is a mess.
An exit from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue subway station and dozens of busy shops all combine to make this corner one of the most heavily trafficked areas in Queens, by both pedestrians and motorists. To make matters worse, road work has been going on as part of a rehabilitation of the subway station for several years.
At that intersection on Monday, Moran and Crowley were joined by City Councilwoman Helen Sears and representatives from the Jackson Heights Merchants Association to announce the passage of a massive transportation bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. It will allocate $16 million for road and transportation improvements in New York City, with $640,000 earmarked for a study of the Roosevelt Avenue intersection.
“This funding is a huge quality of life victory for the residents of Jackson Heights,” Crowley said. He added that each project will bring numerous construction jobs with it.
The bill that passed in the house was a 6-year plan, funding $284 billion worth of transportation improvements throughout the country. The bill passed by a majority of 417 to 9, which is noteworthy since Congress has been anything but united this year.
Several government watchdog groups voiced dissent over the bill, which they called pork at its worst. “The transportation bill is a perfect illustration of why the government continues to accrue record deficits despite higher tax receipts and a growing economy,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.
Another group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, issued highlights of “egregious projects,” including $3 million to expand a museum visitor’s center in Ohio and $500,000 to repair sidewalks outside the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.
“It’s money well spent,” countered Crowley. He pointed out that Jackson Heights is a thriving business community that brings in millions of tax dollars for the city and needs to be less congested. “It’s an incredibly profitable block.”
A similar bill stalled in the Senate last year, but Crowley and other members of Congress are confident that this one will pass. “Deals have been struck,” said Jennifer Psaki, a spokesperson for Crowley.
With Moran by his side, he said that this was a project that the city has been wanting for years. The city is supplementing the federal contribution with $160,000. The DOT said it’s planning on working closely with officials at the MTA and New York City Transit.
The study will focus on a large area, bounded by the BQE to the west, 41st Street to the south, 82nd Street to the east and 35th Street to the north. After the study is completed, in an estimated two years, funding to implement its recommendations will have to be sought from city, state and federal sources.