By Bill Parry
A compromise has been reached on the controversial redesign of 111th Street along the western side of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the city Department of Transportation announced last week. Last month, City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) led a rally on the steps of City Hall demanding action on the long-sought-after improvements she fully funded in 2013.
“For too long, 111th Street has been a dangerous barrier for families visiting Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Our community deserves safe street streets and easy access to their local park,” Ferreras-Copeland said. “I have rallied with local mothers, heard the concerns of residents, and put out capital money where it matters to fund this project. I’m pleased the mayor has heard our voices and will bring Vision Zero to Corona. This phase of safety improvements will make one of New York City’s largest parks more welcoming to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.”
The updated proposal follows an intense community engagement process, which included a series of community workshops focused on transportation issues in Corona. The proposal includes an improved roadway design with a two-way protected bike lane and 25 additional parking spaces.
“After almost two years of advocating for a compromise plan to take into account the concerns of residents of 111th Street as well as the need to improve pedestrian safety, I am happy to have worked with the mayor’s office and DOT to reach this new proposed design,” Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst) said, “As a lifelong resident of Corona, I look forward to watching the plan move through the community board process and feel confident that in the end we will have achieved greater safety in a way that our entire community can appreciate.”
In the original DOT plan, the thoroughfare would have been remade into one lane in each direction for vehicular traffic. Moya was opposed because of the heavy traffic during events inside the park and the compromise for two southbound lanes was struck.
New, wider spaces for pedestrians at the medians will be added at 14 intersections from 46th Avenue to Corona Avenue. Transportation safety groups that were involved in the compromise were pleased that a plan has been agreed on.
“We’re happy to see that this plan has been worked out,” Make Queens Safer Co-founder Cristina Furlong said. “By shortening the crossing distance through wider medians and bike lanes, the Corona community is seeing some progress in advancements for walkers, cyclists and mass transit users.”
The DOT plans to go back to Community Board 4 with the agreed-upon proposal shortly, officials said. CB4’s vote will be advisory.
Between 2010 and 2014, there were 23 pedestrian injuries, 24 bicycle injuries and 92 motor vehicle injuries between 43rd Avenue and Corona Avenue.
“We look forward to improving 111th Street for the thousands of pedestrians and cyclists who want to safely access and enjoy the jewel that is Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “And we thank all of our partners who worked with us over the past years.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr