By Connor Adams Sheets
This week’s blizzard cramped the style of New Yorkers from the Hudson to the Nassau County line, but northeast Queens residents and leaders say they were disproportionately neglected in its aftermath.
Primary roads in entire sections of Whitestone, College Point and Bayside were left unplowed until Monday night, and smaller thoroughfares were blocked until as least as late as Tuesday night, conditions that led to delays in restoring power to dozens of homes.
“Sometimes, City Hall seems to forget there are five boroughs. Parts of my district are completely snowed in today and many households have lost power,” City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said in a Monday afternoon statement. “Routes into Whitestone and College Point are blocked, and parts of these neighborhoods have no access ways.”
By Tuesday afternoon, Halloran said the main roads in his district had been plowed so they were at least passable, but that there were still dozens of homes without power and many smaller roads remained unplowed.
As of Tuesday night in College Point, 20th Avenue and College Point Boulevard had been plowed, but 14th Avenue was “a complete mess,” according to Halloran’s spokesman, Steve Stites. In Bayside, Northern, Bell and Francis Lewis boulevards had been mostly plowed, but most side roads were still filled with snow and in Whitestone major roads like the Cross Island Parkway were mostly clear but “almost all side roads [were] undriveable” as of Tuesday night, Stites said.
“We’ve finally gotten the primary roads opened across the board, but none of the secondaries have been cleared in those neighborhoods and forget about the tertiary roads,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “So it’s still a massive undertaking.”
A representative for the Mayor’s Office had told Halloran Tuesday that the city expected to have all primary and secondary roads cleared and all tertiary roads passable by 7 p.m. Tuesday.
City officials said one reason for the neglect was that many vehicles were illegally left on streets in those neighborhoods, leading plow-drivers to skip those roads.
But Barbara McHugh, a resident of 128th Street between 23rd and 25th avenues, said her College Point street had not been cleared by Monday afternoon despite a lack of such obstacles.
“There are a lot of senior citizens in the neighborhood, God forbid if you need an ambulance or fire services,” she said. “It’s not just for going shopping, it’s also to have a clear path in case you need emergency services.”
The uncleared streets also left residents who lost power in the storm – including occupants of about 2,500 homes in Halloran’s district – out in the cold Monday.
Con Edison restored power to many of those homes, most of which are in the corridor of Bayside between 26th and 24th avenues, by mid-afternoon Monday, getting into five vehicle accidents in the borough along the way. Halloran said the unplowed roads were the main reason the utility had not restored more homes’ power by then. By Monday night about 180 homes remained powerless, and as of Tuesday morning about 80 still needed their power restored, and Con Edison expected power to be restored to all of them by 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to Halloran.
“Con Edison has been spot-repairing, some of it was from lines that went down from ice, some of it was transformers,” he said Monday afternoon. “It compounds the problem when roads aren’t getting plowed.”
Many Northeast Queens residents said the dearth of plowing by the city to be the continuation of a trend, but others said it was surprising, as they felt it usually does a satisfactory job.
“Usually, they do something during the night to help alleviate it but apparently nothing was done,” McHugh said. “We usually have it done very well, this is the first year this has happened.”
To report an unplowed road, visit nyc.gov/apps/311/allServices.htm?requestType=topService&serviceName=Snow+or+Ice+on+Roadway+Report.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4538.