Residents Dispute Neighborhood Street Change
The pros and cons over the proposed conversion of a twoway Maspeth street into a one-way road were debated by residents during Community Board 5′s Transportation and Public Transit committee meeting last Tuesday night, June 19, at Martin Luther School in Maspeth.
Maura McCarthy, Queens borough commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), outlined the proposed change to the full length Mazeau Street between 57th Avenue and the westbound Queens Midtown Expressway into a one-way street for southbound traffic. The road is currently a one-way southbound for one block between 57th Drive and the Queens Midtown Expressway.
Residents of the street had complained that their residential roadway had been the site of numerous accidents caused by speeding drivers. While they claimed that the change would help save lives and property, others in the area argued that the oneway switch would inconvenience them, as they would need to drive several blocks out of their way to reach Grand Avenue and other local streets.
In response to complaints by Mazeau Street residents about the safety of the roadway, McCarthy stated, the DOT launched a study to consider the one-way conversion plan. The two-way road is narrow and there is limited visibility for drivers turning at a bend just south of 57th Avenue, she noted.
Between 2006 and 2010, Mc- Carthy stated, a total of eight accidents occurred on Mazeau Street, six of which resulted in injuries to pedestrians and/or motorists.
The DOT also learned that some motorists have also been turning illegally down Mazeau Street from the westbound Queens Midtown Expressway in order to reach 57th Drive. Manny Caruana, a Board 5 committee member who lives near Mazeau Street, stated that 57th Drive is “being used as a shortcut to Grand Avenue” on a regular basis.
“Everyone would have to travel to 69th Place or 69th Street, then come back around to get to their streets,” McCarthy said. “There will be no loss of parking if we did this, but lots of people would have to travel further to get to their houses.”
One of the Mazeau Street residents in attendance to speak in support of the one-way change was Linda Daquaro, who showed photos of damage caused to a neighbor’s property as a result of an out-ofcontrol vehicle. According to Daquaro, the car jumped the curve and smashed through a brick fence in his front yard.
She added that her son’s new car has already been sideswiped by speeding vehicles passing through on the block.
“I’d rather be inconvenienced five minutes out of my way so no one gets hurt,” Daquaro said. “I don’t need my property destroyed or someone gets killed because someone is speeding up the street.”
To accommodate drivers who may be inconvenienced by this change, Daquaro suggested that the DOT look into reversing the direction of the one-way 69th Lane between Grand Avenue and Queens Midtown Expressway from southbound to northbound. This would enable drivers to reach points on 57th Drive, 57th Road and 70th Street between 69th Lane and Mazeau Street.
Another Maspeth resident claimed that some teachers from nearby schools have been making the illegal turn from Queens Midtown Expressway onto Mazeau Street “every day” as a shortcut.
“It can’t be a two way,” the resident said. “Otherwise, somebody’s going to die on that street. I don’t want someone dead in front of my house.”
Offering a counterpoint on the proposal was Dan Distler, a resident of Mazeau street for over 30 years, who stated that the change would make it more difficult for neighbors living in the area to reach their home in a timely manner.
“We’re talking about a nine-block difference,” he said. “That’s a major difference. … I’ve seen accidents on Grand Avenue. Should we make that a one-way as well?”
Board 5 member Robert Holden added that the proposed change would force drivers heading to points east to travel “a number of blocks out of their way.” Residents on 57th Road, 57th Drive and 70th Street would also have difficulty maneuvering through their neighborhood.
“If I lived there, this would have a major impact,” Holden said.
Distler suggested that the DOT prohibit parking at the bend on Mazeau Street in order to give drivers more room to navigate. He noted that the same action was taken on 72nd Street near Maspeth Town Hall after that block experienced a high rate of accidents years ago.
Daquaro, however, countered that the block couldn’t afford to lose any of its limited parking spaces.
“If it’s a safety issue, then get rid of a couple of spots,” Holden replied.
Vincent Arcuri, chairperson of Board 5, asked if the DOT could “physically restrict” vehicles from turning from the Queens Midtown Expressway northbound onto Mazeau Street. One suggested method was through a “neckdown,” a widening of the corner curb to allow only southbound traffic to pass through.
“If there’s a speeding problem on a street and most of the people are going in one direction or the other, no matter what you do, they’re going to speed,” he said. “We had that problem elsewhere in the area, and we refused to turn it into a one-way, because the speeding would increase rather than decrease.”
Nonetheless, Arcuri said, the committees would examine the proposal further and make a recommendation for or against the change in the months ahead.
Caruana also asked McCarthy address vehicles which are speeding along the off-ramp from the westbound Long Island Expressway to 69th Street and Grand Avenue. He suggested making the left lane of the expressway service road exclusively for vehicles turning southbound onto 69th Street.
Holden also urged McCarthy to study traffic patterns in the vicinity of Maspeth High School, which is currently being constructed at the corner of 57th Avenue and 74th Street and scheduled to open in September. He observed that the DOT should institute “no standing” regulations along several streets in the area in order to keep traffic moving.
McCarthy stated that the agency would consider studying Holden’s suggestion.
The committees agreed to ask the DOT to remove a bus stop for the B38 line on Stanhope Street westbound at Fairview Avenue in Ridgewood, as there are two other stops in the same direction located in close proximity. This change, it was noted, would free up room for additional parking.
Community Board 5’s Transportation Committee will meet again tonight, Thursday, June 28, at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of Redeemer Lutheran School, located at 69-26 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, to discuss revised plans for the creation of the new Glendale Triangle public plaza along 70th Street between Myrtle and Cooper avenues.
Those planning on attending the hearing should enter the school through Door 3 located on 69th Place.