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Ferreras holds town hall meeting on DOT design changes for 111th Street

By Bill Parry

In an effort to soften opposition by members of Community Board 4 to a DOT redesign plan for 111th Street, in Corona, City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) hosted a town hall meeting at the New York Hall of Science Tuesday.

After three Department of Transportation presentations and nearly a dozen workshops, some CB 4 members have complained that they have not had enough input, among other issues.

“Some people were concerned that there weren’t enough meetings,” Ferreras told the crowd of nearly 70. “I just think the best thing for our community is a safer 111th Street. I had an aunt who was struck by a car as she crossed 111th Street when I was 8, her leg was broken in three parts. I just want to make sure that never happens to families in this neighborhood.”

The DOT calls the street that runs along Flushing Meadows Corona Park a “priority corridor” because of the number of crashes that have occurred there. Its five lanes of traffic create a crossing distance of 94 feet with great spans between marked pedestrian crossings. Residents can walk a quarter of a mile before finding a crosswalk.

“The design of this roadway is dangerous,” DOT Project Manager Nick Carey said. “Because of its design it acts as a barrier for the park rather than a gateway.”

DOT is proposing a “road diet” that will shrink the roadway to one travel lane in each direction, creating room for more parking and a two-way protected bike lane. Other safety and mobility enhancements include new pedestrian crossings, expanded pedestrian space and curb extensions that will cut down the crossing distance.

Ferreras will host another town hall later this month and CB 4 will vote on the plan in September. Meanwhile, state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) thinks the DOT should make wholesale changes to the plan such as putting the bike lane inside the park and that the “road diet” will create additional traffic congestion, which may result in more accidents and air pollution.

“As a longtime supporter of improved traffic safety and bike lanes, I would like to see improvements made to 111th Street,” Moya said. “I just want to make sure that the changes are both reasonable and community-sensitive. I want a safer community for all and that’s why I’m calling on the DOT to come back to the table with proposals that work for everyone.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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