Though the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting last Saturday at the Emanuel Church of Christ was more lightly attended than most of the group’s other meetings, the residents who were present did not hold back their vocal opposition to the proposal.
Assemblymen Mike Miller, who is opposed to the plan, expressed frustration toward Mayor Bill de Blasio, whom he suggested was not open to hearing Woodhaven’s opposition to the SBS proposal, which would redesign Woodhaven Boulevard to include dedicate bus lanes and reduce the number of traffic lanes to three in each direction.
“I can get a better response from this table than the mayor,” Miller said, knocking on the wooden folding table where WRBA’s executive committee sat. He suggested than the de Blasio administration was targeting Woodhaven residents purposely due to their opposition.
“They made changes to the [SBS] plan,” Miller explained. “But they changed the whole plan except for Woodhaven. I felt they discriminated against us because we fought it so hard.”
Some of the main sticking points that the WRBA had against the plan were the elimination of left turns at Jamaica Avenue — which the city Department of Transportation removed from the plan — bus stops on the medians between the main road and the service roads and the reduction of the number of traffic lanes to three in each direction.
Vance Barbour, a member of the WRBA board of directors, said he was most concerned about the median bus stops.
“The bus went right up onto the curb, crushing the barriers we’re told would protect people waiting for the bus here,” he said. “If that happened here, there would be a lot of victims.”
Alexander Blenkinsopp, WRBA’s communications director, noted that Community Board 9 would “likely” have a presentation on the project at its Sept. 13 meeting. He added that, according to several reports he’s heard, the off-board fare collection system, where riders get a ticket before getting on the bus to speed up boarding, has been malfunctioning on other SBS lines.
“And this is one of the more less-objectionable parts of the plan,” he noted.