By Joe Anuta
The triangular concrete island designed to ward off trucks and help pedestrians cross Grand and Flushing avenues in Maspeth is currently getting a makeover — for the second time in a year.
The city Department of Transportation recently began tearing up concrete flags on the island, which includes a garden and a “Welcome to Maspeth” sign, between the two avenues and 64th Street after parts of the sidewalk began to disintegrate and form patches of sand. This is the second time the concrete has been ripped up after it was initially installed in late 2009.
“It’s a major operation,” said Robert Holden of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “It’s unsightly, it slows up traffic even further and this is the third time that the city has done this. It’s outrageous.”
The city hired contractor Atlas Concrete Batching Corp. for the initial installation and the second renovation, and now it has hired the company a third time, a decision that perplexed Tony Nunziato, a local business owner and activist.
“I understand they’ve used the same contractor again,” he said. “And DOT workers are digging it up. Why are we paying for all this labor?”
Each time, faulty concrete caused the sidewalk to crumble away.
“Safety is DOT’s top priority and the agency is replacing what appears to be defective concrete provided by a concrete vendor,” the department said. “DOT is reviewing
the contract and will pursue all appropriate remedies.”
Atlas Concrete Batching Corp. could not be reached for comment as the DOT released the name of the contractor just before press time.ï»¿
But the orange construction barrels are just the latest problem that residents have with the triangle. Since its installation, it has caused problems, according to Nunziato, even though he said it has the potential to be a good addition to the neighborhood.
The triangle was originally put between Grand and Flushing avenues as a deterrent for large delivery trucks that pass through the neighborhood, according to Nunziato.
With the island in place, trucks traveling eastbound on Grand Avenue have to travel in a zigzag pattern around the triangle, whereas before the trucks could have simply driven straight through.
But instead of avoiding the intersection, the large trucks try to get through anyway and often get stuck in the process.
“You have trucks going eastbound onto Grand Avenue and they can’t make the turn,” Nunziato said. “There are 53-foot trucks trying to make those turns.”
And that length is significant.
According to Nunziato, any trucks over 50 feet are not allowed to operate on city streets without a special permit. The large delivery trucks are allowed on a few major highways throughout the city, but cannot legally operate on Grand Avenue.
Yet that does not seem to have deterred the road from becoming constantly clogged with tractor trailers, according to Holden.
“They are illegal anywhere in New York City, yet they are all over the neighborhood on Grand Avenue,” he said.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.