Rockaway residents may not be getting a rail line anytime soon, but quickly traveling the 14 miles from the beach to Woodside might soon be more than just a pipe dream.
The Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that it has settled on a final design concept for select bus service along Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, stretching 14 miles between Woodside and the Rockaways.
The $200 million plan includes a separation of local and thru traffic, allowing thru traffic to travel free from parking and turning conflicts while local traffic would move along service streets separated from the main strip via a median.
The bus route would be based on the existing Q52 and Q53 paths, and the vehicles would travel in designed curbside lanes along the main strip.
The bus stops containing off-board fare collection, shelters and greenery will be located on the median separating the main strip from the service road.
The select bus service route will also connect its riders to the A, E, F, J, Z, M, R and No. 7 subway lines.
Construction is set to begin in 2017.
“The Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevard bus route will be an ambitious design to provide better transit service to those in Queens, making the street work better for all users,” the DOT said in a release. “The design will also make the street safer, supporting the city’s Vision Zero goal.”
The DOT said the plan would help alleviate “slow and unreliable” bus service, dangerous pedestrian crossings on Woodhaven Boulevard, traffic congestion and difficult navigation of the roadways.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) offered his support for the agency’s plan in a statement issued Tuesday.
“Select bus service on Woodhaven Boulevard will improve the flow of traffic on one of Queens’ busiest corridors,” Ulrich said, “and make the road safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.”
The proposal has been met with enthusiasm from other electeds such as Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Bronx, Queens), but some community officials have expressed their reservations.
Kenichi Wilson, transportation chairman for Community Board 9, said he was disappointed the city picked one design instead of meshing together the three for the entire corridor.
“I have an issue with almost every single design,” Wilson said. “I don’t see it working out that simple.”
In a statement released Wednesday, state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said the plan would only make the two boulevards more dangerous.
“The idea that NYC DOT, through their Select Bus Service proposal, is seeking to remove an entire traffic lane and in my opinion put pedestrians in harms way is irresponsible and unacceptable,” Addabbo said. “Rush hour traffic would suffer significantly and as someone who sits almost daily on that roadway during those times, I shudder to think it could get any worse.”
The city is in the process of applying for a “substantial” amount of funding from the Federal Transit Administration, according to the DOT.
If implemented, the select bus service route would be the eighth in the city and second in Queens after the Harlem-LaGuardia airport route.
According to the DOT, riders will save an estimated 25 to 35 percent in travel time.
Crashes, which have killed 24 people along the route since 2008, may also decline as much as 20 percent.
A series of block-by-block design workshops in order to get feedback from area residents along the length of the route will occur later in the spring.