Board 9 Approves Kew Gdns. Project
Community Board 9 recommend approval during its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 9 in Richmond Hill of a Department of Transportation (DOT) proposal to redesign three intersections along Hillside Avenue at Kew Gardens Road, Metropolitan Avenue and 127th Street.
Despite some opposition, and several Board 9 members voting against the reconfigurations, the planned changes were recommended after the DOT proposal was tabled at the last meeting before the summer recess in June.
Sean Quinn, the DOT codirector of pedestrian projects, stated the plan would convert Metropolitan Avenue to a oneway eastbound between 130th and 131st streets and make 131st Street a one-way northbound between Metropolitan Avenue and Kew Gardens Road.
The alterations are necessary to provide better pedestrian safety and reduce car accidents, Quinn noted. Long crossing distances and dangerous turns from vehicles on Metropolitan Avenue heading westbound that make a left on Hillside Avenue have caused nearly a quarter of all traffic accidents between 2009 and 2012, according to the DOT.
The proposal will add medians and traffic mitigation measures on HillsideAvenue westbound as well. The DOT plan would add a left turn lane at 127th Street near P.S. 54 to make turning vehicles less of a problem, Quinn stated.
It will also ban the following turns for vehicles: eastbound from Metropolitan Avenue to northbound 130th Street; eastbound Hillside Avenue to southbound 130th Street; and westbound Hillside Avenue to southbound 130th Street.
New turn bays will be added heading eastbound on Hillside Avenue to northbound 129th Street and going westbound from Hillside Avenue to southbound 127th Street, it was noted.
To give pedestrians more time to cross and improve safety, the DOT will add a concrete pedestrian island at Hillside Avenue and 127th Street.
Several Board 9 members declared their opposition to the proposal during the public forum and voted against the plan. Most prevalent among their concerns was traffic back-ups that may be created by the one-way conversions.
Quinn noted that the reconfigurations are necessary to avoid traffic backing up along Hillside Avenue. He also pointed to the DOT crash history statistics at Metropolitan and Hillside avenues that found 46 total injuries at the intersection from 2008-2012.
In the four year period, 24 percent of crashes involved left turning vehicles and 60 percent of pedestrian crashes took place when pedestrians were crossing with signal, the DOT found.
Additional changes will alter the intersection at Kew Gardens Road to an eastbound only between Hillside Avenue and Van Wyck Expressway service road, the DOT noted. And the proposal will resrict left turns eastbound from Hillside Avenue to 135th Street and westbound from Hillside Avenue to southbound Kew Gardens Road. New turn bays will be added going eastbound on Hillside Avenue to northbound 136th Street, the DOT stated.
Saying goodbye to Carey
After serving as chairperson of Board 9 for more than three decades, Mary Ann Carey will retire from the position effective Oct 1st, she announced. Carey was presented with an Assembly proclamation, a State Senate citation and an award from Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
In addition, City Council Member Eric Ulrich announced Carey will be honored by the entire Queens City Council delegation at a City Hall ceremony on Sept. 23.
Carey served under five mayors, four borough presidents and 15 board chairpersons.
“It’s very exciting to experience a change that hasn’t happened in 30 years,” Board 9 Chairperson Ralph Gonzalez said.
“I want to thank you, Community Board 9, for the opportunity to serve you for 30 years,” Carey said.
The Borough President’s office and the Board 9 Executive Committee began the search process for a new district manager after the meeting, it was noted.
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Community Board 9 generally meets on the second Tuesday each month at 7:45 p.m. at locations around Kew Gardens, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven. For more information, call 1-718-286- 2686.