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Queens Chronicle

Van Wyck rebuild kills on-off ramps

Access at Liberty and Atlantic to be eliminated under new design

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2019 10:30 am

Buried in a preliminary report on Gov. Cuomo’s plan to rebuild the Van Wyck Expressway is news that two on-off ramps on the chronically congested highway will be permanently closed.

The northbound off ramp at Atlantic Avenue and the southbound entrance ramp at Liberty Avenue have been eliminated in the redesign, according to the state’s latest presentation.

The state Department of Transportation is in the process of finalizing its $1.2 billion plan to add two new high-occupancy vehicle lanes to the Van Wyck to speed up traffic to and from JFK International Airport, which is also undergoing a major renovation.

The new lanes will be constructed down the center of the existing expressway. They will be open only to vehicles with three or more passengers, taxis and buses.

The new lanes will essentially be limited-access express lanes with only limited chances to get off the highway before arriving at the airport going south or the Kew Gardens Interchange heading north.

In a video posted on YouTube about the changes in store for the Van Wyck, the DOT revealed that the two ramps on the Van Wyck will be closed permanently along the notoriously overloaded stretch between Jamaica Avenue and Linden Boulevard.

JFK-bound vehicles may not feel the change, but it promises to be one of the more disconcerting pieces of the project for local drivers.

Under the new design, drivers who get on the highway at Liberty Avenue will have to use the on-ramps at either 101st Avenue or Linden Boulevard instead.

Drivers who get off at Atlantic Avenue will have to exit at Liberty Avenue or Jamaica Avenue.

“No matter what, I feel this is the solution to a lot of our problems in the area,” said Kenny Wilson, the new chairman of Community Board 9, who was briefed by DOT officials on the proposed changes.

The round-the-clock congestion on the Van Wyck has been a main contributor to new traffic problems on Woodhaven Boulevard, he said. Woodhaven runs parallel to the expressway and offers an alternative, north-south route for drivers.

Work on the final, 4.3-mile leg of the Van Wyck rebuilding project is set to begin next spring and take up to three years to complete.

“They are trying to be as realistic as possible, I thought, about how long this was going to take,” he said.

The redesign will also include a major rerouting of lanes at the south end.

Heading south, the four-lane Van Wyck will split into two lanes heading directly to the airport and the Belt Parkway headed east. Two right lanes will go only to the Belt Parkway westbound.

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