By Jeremy Walsh
A narrow street in Long Island City could soon be converted for one-way traffic when Community Board 2 votes on a city proposal this week.
The plan, submitted by the city Department of Transportation after requests from the community, would force all traffic on 49th Avenue to travel eastbound from 5th Street to Vernon Boulevard, Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy told a CB 2 hearing Nov. 20.
The street is 29 feet wide and borders the Andrews Playground just west of Vernon. The playground was justification for the one-way conversion, McCarthy said.
Neighbors at the hearing said drivers frequently have to stop and back up to allow delivery trucks to make it down the block. Some worried that the limited maneuvering space presented a danger to children at the park.
“I’m thinking pretty soon a baby is going to wander out of the park and get hit by a car,” said neighbor Dale Jennings. “I don’t want to have to witness that.”
The DOT also plans to install a speed hump on the street, something residents agreed would be a welcome addition to a block drivers routinely speed down in order to get to Vernon Boulevard.
But all was not well among the public present at the hearing. Brian Adams, president of the Hunters Point Merchants Association, said people who live near the street were not made aware of the public hearing, noting he circulated fliers.
“Even as I was posting and distributing them, people were coming up to me,” he said. “The community is not aware of this.”
But Adams agreed something needed to be done about traffic on the street.
CB 2 Chairman Joe Conley said the board had gone through the proper procedures to publicize the hearing, including announcing it at the previous month’s meeting.
The plan also received some criticism from lifelong Hunters Point resident Frank Corrado, who argued 49th Avenue should be made westbound.
“If they decide later to make 5th Street one way, it’s going to go south,” he said, warning that such an arrangement would make 49th Avenue a kind of safety valve for commuters driving to the Long Island Expressway from the Queens West condominium towers.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.