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Queens Chronicle

Worsening traffic decried in Flushing

Gridlock caused by construction project and change in bus routes

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Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 10:30 am

It’s always gridlock alert day in Downtown Flushing.

Calling it “the perfect storm,” Flushing developer Michael Meyer said last Friday at a Community Board 7 district cabinet meeting that changing bus routes, construction and increased traffic have exacerbated the situation over recent months.

“I’ve never seen such a bottleneck in my life and I’ve been around the world,” said Meyer, president of F & T, which is developing the Flushing Commons mixed-use development with the Rockefeller Group at the site of the former Municipal Parking Lot 1.

He said some inconveniences were expected during the multi-year construction project, but that no one had anticipated so much gridlock.

Joe Kennedy, representing the MTA, said the Q17 and Q27 buses have been rerouted from stopping at St. George’s Episcopal Church on Main Street to 138th Street, between 38th and 39th avenues. “The buses have a big problem turning around on 37th Avenue and the only way to solve the problem is to eliminate vehicles in the area,” he said.

CB 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman explained that the historic church foundation was deteriorating due to vibrations from all the buses. In addition, drivers were urinating on the structure and the Main Street stop was making it difficult for church dropoffs.

Meyer also believes the casino buses parked in the area add to the problem, as does Bitterman, but Kennedy downplayed their importance.

Capt. Tom Conforti, commanding officer of the 109th Precinct, said that the 37th Avenue traffic flow is backed up from Main Street, past 138th Avenue to Union Street, where the precinct is located.

“Fire trucks can’t get through,” Conforti said. “I saw one car wait 19 minutes to make a turn. It’s absolute gridlock.”

Bitterman said she wrote to the Department of Transportation about the traffic problems. “We don’t need another study,” she said. “We need the changes as soon as possible.”

Rich Guppetti, representing the DOT, said his agency considers the issue a priority and that a signal study is underway for Union Street and 37th Avenue.

“Your agency doesn’t work quickly enough,” Bitterman replied.

Guppetti’s answer was that another traffic study was needed and then his agency would review the results.

Gene Kelty, CB 7 chairman, said an on-site tour of the area with the DOT is needed “as has been done before. I don’t know why we need another study. We are looking for a temporary fix.”

Conforti said he has the perfect solution: “Change it to no left turn onto 37th Avenue from northbound Union Street or reverse traffic flow on 37th and 39th avenues.”

Meyer said because of the confused traffic situation, people either don’t know parking is still available at the former municipal lot site or have difficulty finding the entrance. “We are adding a new parking entrance at 37th Avenue and will convert it to an exit at night,” he said. “The main entrance is at 138th Street.”

He added that parking is down at the lot and that new signs went up last week for safety. “We’ve tried to mitigate everything under our control,” Meyer said, adding that the borough president has been “extremely helpful” in monthly meetings with city agencies and his development group.

“This is hurting merchants and is a disaster for the community,” he added.

Kennedy asked if traffic agents could be used to calm traffic, but Bitterman noted Queens gets very few of them. Conforti added that it is impossible to use his officers “as we are stretched too thin already. I just don’t have officers to put out there regularly,” he said.

Bitterman is also requesting that DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg visit the site to see the situation firsthand.

Following an on-site meeting Monday with the DOT and MTA, the district manager said additional traffic lights and street reversals were recommended for the area.

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1 comment:

  • cosmo posted at 3:28 pm on Mon, Dec 1, 2014.

    cosmo Posts: 1

    Very Ironic that you quote Michael Meyer joking about the traffic. It is his project that is responsible for a good portion of it. The temporary parking that was promised never came. Flushing already has a shortage of parking, and taking away half the spots will leave a lot of cars circling the streets looking to park.