DOT pitches road no-hitter

Local officials got an eyeful recently, when Department of Transportation (DOT) Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy and staffers presented their plans for sweeping changes to traffic patterns along Rockaway Boulevard and at the Rockaway/Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevard/Linden Avenue intersection complex.

Citing pedestrian fatalities and auto accident clusters with serious injuries, Project Manager Rob Viola and Borough Planner Nathan Gray led the presentation at the regular meeting of Community Board (CB)10 on Thursday, June 3.

The two major proposals are for the four-mile Rockaway Boulevard from Atlantic Avenue to Sutphin Boulevard and for the intersections of Woodhaven/Crossbay and Rockaway Boulevards, Liberty Avenue, 93rd through 96th Streets.

DOT noted that the Liberty Avenue corridor is nearly in the top 10 percent of “severe injury corridors” in Queens, with about 59 percent of cars speeding.

The plan, with pedestrian-safe medians, left-turn bays and traffic lane reductions with wider parking/drop-off lanes in various areas – while shortening the period between light-changes to slow speeders and reduce jaywalking, was generally well-received.

More controversial was DOT’s proposal to close off several blocks of Liberty Avenue and also 94th Street in the intersection complex, move bus stops, enlarge pedestrian islands and widen some turns.

Several CB10 members voiced reservations about diversions they said would actually increase traffic close to a nearby school and library. They were assured that the plan was the result of long study, but that their concerns would be reviewed.

Longtime local resident David Quintana suggested that rather than close the block of 94th Street between Rockaway Boulevard and Liberty Avenue completely, it should be southbound for buses only.

The DOT delegation, clearly impressed with an idea which had admittedly eluded them, promised to take the suggestion back and consult with CB10 later this year, before a final plan is released.

The board set up a special committee to closely review and critique the proposals.

The plans as presented to CB10 can be found on the DOT web site at www.nyc/gov, under “Current Projects,” click on “More Projects” and then “Traffic Calming” (www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/about/currentproj.shtml#calming).