Pols: Put bus lanes on the service road 1

As the debate over dedicated bus lanes on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards escalates, a trio of politicians have asked the Department of Transportation to alter its existing plan for the corridor.

Three elected officials representing a large stretch of Woodhaven Boulevard have asked the Department of Transportation to go back to an alternative plan for its Select Bus Service proposal.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) in a May 2 letter urged DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to utilize what is called Concept 1 for SBS from Rockaway Boulevard to Park Lane South.

The DOT originally proposed three concepts for SBS and last March announced it is going ahead with Concept 2, much to the chagrin of some residents who oppose the plan. Others, however, support it.

Concept 1 would have the dedicated bus lanes along the corridor be placed along the service road of Woodhaven Boulevard, rather than along revamped medians, as is being proposed by the agency.

“This concept preserved parking along the service roads,” the politicians said in the letter, a copy of which was provided to the Queens Chronicle. “Residents in Community Board 9 and Community Board 10 found this option the most appropriate. Concepts 2 and 3, in our judgment and in the judgment of the community, would significantly increase traffic and decrease safety.”

The stretch of Woodhaven Boulevard from Park Lane South to Rockaway Boulevard will be the only part of the corridor that has the median lanes, which also will require commuters to wait in the middle of the road on redesigned bus stops.

Existing rush-hour offset bus lanes in Rego Park and Forest Hills will stay in effect, there will be no bus lanes from Metropolitan Avenue to Union Turnpike and curb-side, rush-hour lanes from Rockaway Boulevard to the Belt Parkway, where the dedicated bus lanes will end.

The DOT’s press office did not immediately reply to an inquiry for comment on the politicians’ request.

Alex Blenkinsopp, communications director for the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, thanked the representatives for sending the letter to the DOT.

“Concept 1 certainly would be safer and less disruptive than Concept 2, though still not perfect,” Blenkinsopp said.

The WRBA has been a fierce opponent of SBS as it’s proposed right now and fought a previous proposal to ban left turns from Woodhaven Boulevard onto Jamaica Avenue, which has since been dropped from the plan.

Both the politicians’ letter and Blenkinsopp called for increased communication from the agency on the plan.

Ulrich, Miller and Addabbo criticized the agency’s decision to go with the median lanes, despite community opposition to them.

“We feel DOT did not sufficiently consider the community’s input when making this decision,” they said in the letter.

Blenkinsopp said should the DOT go back to Concept 1, it then must seek “real community input regarding the plan.”

Addabbo, in an interview, said he’s optimistic the DOT will go back Concept 1.

“Until they start pouring the concrete, I’ll remain optimistic that they’ll go back to this,” he said.

(1) comment


That is a politically strategic move: Remember that Concept 1 will be putting offset bus lanes on the service roads along Woodhaven Boulevard because of the following reasons: 1) It will improve traffic flow along the main road for over 100,000 motorists each day; 2) It will improve pedestrian access along the bus route for over 30,000 bus riders each day; 3) It will preserve more left turns; 4) It is a safer option that could benefit everyone the very most. Remember: The higher the concept, the more opposition the residents will be; The further north you go along the corridor, the more opposed this project should be.

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