168th St. to be one-way at Muslim center entry

By Juan Soto

At a time when the de Blasio administration is making huge efforts to increase street safety in every neighborhood in the city, Jamaica Hills just got a big chunk of good news.

The two-way roadway that runs parallel to the Jamaica Muslim Center entrance, at 168th Street between Highland Avenue and Gothic Drive, will soon be converted into a one-way street — a longtime and hard-fought demand from pedestrians, advocates, community leaders and elected officials.

“This location has been, over the years, a highly potential place for serious accidents to happen,” said City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), one of the proponents of the changes.

“If the new mayor is committed to his Vision Zero, this is the perfect example for a traffic change. It will save people’s lives,” he added, referring to the initiative put into place to increase street safety.

The Jamaica Muslim Center also welcomed the changes.

“This measure will certainly reduce traffic and increase pedestrian safety,” said Akhter Hussain., president of the center.

But Hussain gave more homework to the Department of Transportation.

“If this is really Vision Zero, to make it a big deal the DOT has to install a speed bump as well,” he added.

Pressure to implement new traffic measures to the block mounted when a 16-year-old boy was run over by a van as he was walking on the sidewalk in front of the mosque to meet some friends. He was seriously injured and is still recovering from his injuries.

The official announcement for the street changes is expected Friday in front of the Muslim center.

In 2010, Community Board 8, which represents the zone, sent a letter to the DOT that was signed by 60 residents of the area and the Jamaica Muslim Center, requesting these traffic safety measures.

Two years later, the city agency denied the petition on the grounds that the street has heavy traffic volumes both ways.

According to city figures, more than 250 people were killed in New York in traffic-related accidents last year and approximately 4,000 city residents were seriously injured.

“Hopefully, a one-way street will make this place safer,” Lancman said.

Reach reporter Juan Soto at (718) 260-4564 or by e-mail at jsoto@cnglocal.com.