OANA seeks changes in 21st St. bus plans 1

The city Department of Transportation is planning bus lanes for 21st Street in Astoria. But members of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association want a few changes.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority considers 21st Street in Astoria to be a bus priority corridor between Hoyt Avenue North and Queens Plaza North.

Toward that end, the city’s Department of Transportation on Nov. 18 hosted its fourth community advisory meeting on an ongoing study to modernize and speed up bus traffic on the street, detailing three different proposals.

Speaking earlier this week, Richard Khuzami, president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, said he and his membership understand the need for a new plan.

“But the people we polled prefer Option No. 4,” Khuzami told the Chronicle, following up with a press release with numerous suggested changes to the DOT’s plans.

The city’s 38-page presentation can be viewed online at https://on.nyc.gov/3DOzf9p.

Each of the proposals, with the addition of bus lanes, would reduce 21st Street to a single travel lane in each direction. Left turns would be eliminated except for those permitted from marked lanes.

The presentation states that any final plan must “significantly enhance both pedestrian safety and bus speed and reliability.”

Option 1 would give buses “queue jump” lanes at the curb and signal priority at intersections.

Option 2 would offer offset bus lanes between the travel lane and curbside parking. The DOT presentation on page 14 states that option offers more speed and reliability for buses than Option 1, while increasing safety for pedestrians crossing the street.

The presentation said Option 3, two center bus lanes with bus islands requiring pedestrians to cross the travel lane to access them, would be less practical given 21st Street’s width, which would make left turns difficult and would not allow limited-stop buses to pass local buses.

Bus lane enforcement cameras would be considered as early as 2022.

OANA’s statement, dated Tuesday, said more than 56 percent of the 700-plus people the group surveyed did not want bus lanes, and that among those who approved, the plurality supported Option 3.

The civic group is calling for curbside bus lanes that are operational only during rush hours.

“This would help mitigate the parking removal that may be required,” the civic said. “This is the same configuration that has been used for many years on Manhattan avenues.”

The OANA wants to make sure that eliminating left turns at many intersections does not seriously impact commercial truck and taxi drivers; and does not lead to an increase throughout the neighborhood of “Jersey turns” in which drivers must make a right turn followed by two immediate lefts to get where they want to go.

Left turn lanes are being proposed at 41st Avenue (southbound) and Queens Plaza North, 40th Avenue, 30th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard (northbound).

The DOT said another virtual meeting will be held in December. Public comments can be sent to John O’Neill of the DOT art joneill@dot.nyc.gov.

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