By Patrick Donachie
The completion of the first phase of a significant repaving of Jamaica Avenue was celebrated Friday morning, as lawmakers, community leaders and officials from the Department of Transportation lauded the completion of the first phase of a process that many said was long overdue.
“The fact that this street has gone unpaved in the state it’s in is a travesty. This thriving Jamaica community has suffered because of it,” City Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) said. “If you don’t have paved, safe streets, it’s not safe for pedestrians or drivers.”
The press conference took place outside of the New Greater Bethel Ministries in Queens Village, near the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 216th Street. Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-Jamaica) and New York City DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia joined Miller at the event, flanked by DOT workers.
The first phase of the repaving encompassed seven lane miles between Francis Lewis Boulevard and 224th Street, with the second phase likely coming next year. This next step will involve repaving 11 lane miles between Francis Lewis Boulevard and 168th Street, a project that will stretch into the center of downtown Jamaica.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the repaving efforts during a September town hall moderated by Miller at the Southern Queens Park Association in Roy Wilkins Park, which Garcia said was received very warmly by residents.
“The news was met with thunderous applause. We knew it was long overdue,” she said. “Most importantly, we know it is an investment in the quality of life for Queens residents.”
Comrie noted he wanted to see more seasonal repaving, similar to how Queens Boulevard is periodically maintained. He cited Jamaica Avenue’s high car and bus traffic as a reason for continual upkeep.
“Because of how vital it is to the transportation infrastructure of southeast Queens, Jamaica Avenue should undergo regular resurfacing to repair the damage caused by heavy commercial traffic,” he said.
Jamaica Avenue is an extremely busy thoroughfare, stretching from Nassau County into Brooklyn. The avenue cuts straight through downtown Jamaica, near the Long Island Rail Road stations and the AirTrain to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Miller and others said the calls for repaving along the avenue had been going on for about 10 years.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona