The old adage “keep on trucking” doesn’t apply to Maspeth anymore.
The much-anticipated Maspeth Truck Bypass plan, passed in July, went into effect on Saturday, October 1, meaning trucks will now travel to and from the Long Island Expressway without using central avenues in the residential community.
Community activist and local business owner Tony Nunziato, who conceived the original plan with the late Frank Principe,is pleased the job is “getting done.” Although it’s been revised by the Department of Transportation (DOT) since becoming a capital project, Nunziato still feels good that the decade-long project is now a reality.
Among the changes in place with the Maspeth Truck Bypass plan is the designation of Grand and Flushing Avenues from “through” to “local” truck routes. Existing laws to keep oversized trucks off local roads are also being enforced aggressively by the 104th Precinct, according to Nunziato, who noted that the bypass route is still very much in progress and the benefits won’t be immediate.
“It’s not done, etching, yellow lines, signage — I mean I know the plans, but if I was driving down there, I wouldn’t know what was going on [yet],” said Nunziato. “They’re working on it so I’ll give them the time.”
The DOT did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.
Nunziato is confident that once the bypass route is completed and signage is posted, the community will see a reduction in truck traffic.
“They’re just implementing the bypass yet, so once they have all the lines and all the signs, then they’ll do the big signs on the highway. Eventually, when they have all the signs and give the truckers a chance to use the bypass route, then you come and start ticketing.You want to give them a fair chance to adjust to it,” he said.
He also noted that the DOT sends trucking companies a route map, which, once updated, should also help the plan along.
Work to convert streets surrounding a complex five-leg intersection into part of the bypass is in process as well.The one-way street conversions, affecting 58th Street and Maurice Avenue, faced strong opposition from many Maspeth business owners who claimed that restricting access on those streets would be detrimental to their businesses.The DOT has stated, however, that the change should ensure better traffic flow in the area.
Nunziato also disagrees with the one-way conversions, stating it was not part of the original bypass plan.
“We never wanted to change the flow of the traffic. They [the DOT] assured us that if they see that it’s hurting businesses they’ll reverse it or they’ll change it, and I’m hoping they stay to their word.
The long-term goal of the bypass plan is to divert trucks, except those making local deliveries, away from the residential and local business spans of Grand or Flushing avenues to a bypass route through Maspeth’s industrial areas.
“We’re not looking to hurt the truckers. We’re looking just to make sure that they work together with the community, so that they don’t damage local business. A lot of children cross the street, a lot of seniors, we’ve got a lot of schools – there’s no reason to have all these massive trucks on the main strip,” Nunziato said.