By Madina Toure
Traffic agents, along with a temporary pedestrian walkway, will now surround the Flushing Commons construction site in downtown to Flushing to address pedestrian safety and congestion issues.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), residents and business and community leaders called on the city Department of Transportation to push the developers — Flushing-based F&T Group, the Rockefeller Group, AECOM Capital and Mount Kellett Capital Management LP — to hire traffic control agents to manage traffic in the area and come up with a solution to protect pedestrians.
“I think it’s a huge step forward by DOT requiring the developer to come up with traffic control agents and install a temporary sidewalk,” Avella said. “The temporary sidewalk has already been done. That’s quick action by DOT.”
The first phase of , which is expected to be completed by 2017, will open a section of the municipal lot as an underground garage is being built. It will also consist of 150 units of market-rate housing and 219,000 square feet of commercial space.
The project was temporarily halted during the recession, but F&T Group, the Rockefeller Group, AECOM Capital and Mount Kellett Capital Management LP entered into a partnership and were able to get $235 million from Starwood Property in March to fund the first phase of construction.
The DOT met with development staff, who then agreed to hire two more trafffic agents and set up the walkway.
The developers were operating under a plan the DOT had already approved, but adjusted their original approach at the request of the developers.
The development group initially had two flagmen directing traffic.
“They basically asked to amend their original approval of the plan we had in place and we’ve complied,” Michael Meyer, president of F&T Group, said.
Meyer said the DOT may consider getting rid of the seven on-street parking spots because the pedestrian walkway encroaches on one lane of car traffic.
“If it exacerbates the very bad traffic congestion we already have here, if by doing this the traffic becomes worse, my understanding is DOT said they will monitor this and consider the elimination of the on-street parking,” he said.
The DOT said it would pay attention to how the traffic agents and the walkway are affecting traffic in the area.
“DOT has modified permits to allow for the pedestrian walkway and pedestrian managers,” a DOT spokeswoman wrote in an email. “DOT will continue to monitor the recently implemented adjustments and to observe that they achieve the intended goal of enhancing safety.”
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4566.