Some Woodhaven residents want the city to take an alternate route toward improving public transportation in their community.
The proposed Select Bus Service (SBS) line for Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards again took center stage during the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting on the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 20. Following up on remarks raised at the group’s January meeting, Alex Blenkinsopp, the WRBA communications director, discussed some of the DOT’s responses to the group’s complaints.
“There are a couple of things to know here. First, the Department of Transportation has been working very, very closely with so-called ‘transit advocates’ to try to push this plan through,” he remarked. “Now, it’s funny that they call themselves transit advocates, because I think everyone in this room would advocate for better public transit. I don’t think there’s anyone here who would say, ‘No, we want less bus service, we want worse bus service.’ I think everyone in this room is a transit advocate.”
Blenkinsopp, along with many attendees, believe the negative aspects of the plan strongly outweigh the positive. Specific concerns he raised were plans to create SBS waiting areas in the boulevards’ center medians and restricting left turns from Woodhaven Boulevard onto Jamaica Avenue, where most Woodhaven businesses are located.
“We don’t think that this improvement needs to come at the cost of drivers; of bus riders who are going to be forced to wait in the median; at the expense of our businesses who are not going to have automobile traffic because people can’t turn onto Jamaica Avenue; and at the expense of every resident who is now going to have increased traffic on their residential side streets,” he said.
One attendee proposed a study on the light synchronization along the boulevard as a better remedy for the problematic heavy traffic. Blenkinsopp pointed out that this was one of the alternative approaches that were presented by the community to Department of Transportation representatives at a forum in Woodhaven back in November.
In a letter to DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia, Blenkinsopp also asked that the agency consider “improvements of the crosswalks along the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue” and using articulated buses on the Q52 and Q53 limited lines “so that people who are getting on the bus in the Rockaways don’t have to stop at many, many stops” before arriving at the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst.
“Woodhaven is not the only community against this,” added WRBA President Martin Colberg. “[It’s] Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park: because everyone uses Woodhaven Boulevard.”
Colberg urged the community to continue actively fighting against the DOT’s current proposal. “We’re gonna have to live with this for decades,” he said, “so let’s get it right.”