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Queens Chronicle

Still waiting for an SBS vote at CB 9

Some members push for a motion on the controversial bus proposal

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Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2015 10:30 am

The Department of Transportation’s Select Bus Service proposal for Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards has been one of the more talked about and controversial topics at Community Board 9 meetings recently, but the advisory panel has not yet taken an official stance on it.

Some members on Tuesday said it might be time to change that.

“Are we serving the community well by remaining silent on it?” CB 9 member Alex Blenkinsopp asked Transportation Committee Chairman Kenichi Wilson at the full board’s meeting.

Other members — all who seemed to be opposed to the plan to place a designated bus lane in both directions along the corridor — also said they would like to see an official stance taken on SBS.

“I feel like we need to take a position on this,” member Marilyn Molina said.

But Wilson said he would rather wait for the DOT and MTA to come back with statistics on the effects of bus lanes, not part of SBS, implemented on the corridor in Rego Park and Forest Hills.

“I would not like to make a premature decision on it,” he said.

Molina was skeptical that the DOT would be truthful with any statistics it might present to the board.

“I’m feeling like I can’t trust the DOT,” she added.

Board member Jan Fenster said taking a vote would send a message to the community that the panel is reflecting its opinions on the plan.

“Let them know that we’re not just sitting on our rear ends,” Fenster said.

Despite the lack of an official vote, many CB 9 members have expressed their opposition to SBS because they believe it would add congestion on the main thoroughfare, shift more vehicles to side streets due to the elimination of left turns onto major corridors and put commuters in harm’s way by making them wait for the buses on the center median of Woodhaven Boulevard.

The service is expected to be implemented in 2017, with town halls on the details of it being hosted next year.

A town hall was held last Monday, hosted by a number of Woodhaven organizations, where a room of 100 residents opposed to SBS admonished the DOT for going ahead with the plan against their wishes.

Although Wilson declined to have a formal position taken up on the proposal, he did say he has strong personal feelings about it and the bus lanes already in effect.

“It’s really hard for me to hold back how I feel about it,” he told the board, adding once the board does vote on SBS he would open up the “floodgates” holding back his opinions on it.

The committee chairman has said the Rego Park lanes have affected his business, which requires drivers to commute from Queens to Manhattan, and he sees congestion starting on Woodhaven Boulevard earlier every day.

“I’m paying people to sit in traffic,” he said.

Wilson will be attending a community advisory committee meeting on the plan on Tuesday at noon at Queens Borough Hall.

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