By Stephen Stirling
The longâˆ’awaited, oneâˆ’way traffic plan for downtown Flushing could begin a pilot phase as early as this fall, city Department of Transportation officials told the Flushing Business Improvement District last Thursday.
Flushing BID Executive Director Mabel Law said the DOT hopes to test its plan to implement oneâˆ’way traffic and widen sidewalks along major Flushing thoroughfares Main Street and Union Street in the fall by placing temporary concrete medians along the roadway that would simulate the new positions of the sidewalks.
Law said the pilot phase would be used to gauge how motorists and businesses cope with the new system before more permanent construction occurs in 2010.
“You’re not going to have everybody extremely happy about this,” Law said. “But the general feeling is that this is a plan that we would like to see move forward. The way it’s been presented is that if we don’t do something now, what’s going to happen in a couple of years?”
Under the plan, Main Street will be converted to oneâˆ’way northbound and Union Street will be oneâˆ’way southbound from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue. The sidewalks along both streets would be extended to an average of 20 feet to accommodate additional pedestrian traffic.
Law said there is a palpable amount of concern coming from businesses in the area which worry how the plan will affect their dayâˆ’toâˆ’day activities.
“This is an especially sensitive time,” she said. “Any type of disruption for a few hours, let alone a full day, could have a tremendous impact on their operations.”
Law said she and the BID are committed to making sure the DOT implements the plan gradually rather than forcing construction all at once, which Law said could have a disastrous impact.
“This is why we had DOT actually do a study of what this would actually look like. Dayâˆ’toâˆ’day I talk about how it’s nearly 110,000 people coming through this area a day. We’re comparable to 34th Street and Times Square,” Law said.
The DOT said it would continue to have an open dialogue with the BID and Community Board 7, whose transportation committee approved the plan Feb. 5, as the project evolves.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by eâˆ’mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 138.