Avella writes to MTA asking to relieve traffic near Whitestone Bridge

By Gina Martinez

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has written to MTA Bridges and Tunnels Acting President Tim Mulligan asking for help to mitigate traffic near the Whitestone bridge.

The bridge is currently under construction as part of the MTA’s Open Road Tolling initiative, which will eliminate tolls and ultimately decrease traffic, but in the meantime, closure of toll booths and lanes on the Whitestone bridge has caused a traffic nightmare for Whitestone residents.

According to Avella, since construction began in May, conditions have gotten worse. Avella wrote a letter in May asking Mulligan, 109th Precinct Deputy Inspector Judith Harrison, and city Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenburg for help to reduce the traffic congestion in northeast Queens due to construction on the bridge.

In his new letter, sent out June 2, Avella wrote: “The most severe traffic is specifically near the intersection of 147th Street and 12th Road, on 14th Avenue near the Whitestone Expressway and on the Cross Island Parkway.”

On June 19, the MTA responded to Avella’s May letter, and explained its efforts to tackle the traffic conditions in the area.

“Conditions have only become worse since construction began, particularly on the weekends,” Avella said. “Most motorist are at a dead stop most of the times while others choose to completely ignore traffic lights and stop signs. … Clearly more can be done as soon as possible to address the nightmarish traffic conditions that Queens residents are dealing with on a daily basis.”

Rob Trombley, second vice president of We Love Whitestone Civic Association, is one of the Whitestone residents dealing with the traffic issues. He said the traffic issues have been constant since the MTA began work on the bridge back in May. According to Trombley, the civic association complained and asked for help from the 109th Precinct. He said officers helped the best that they could, and for a while things did get better, but after the MTA closed down both bridge toll booths, the traffic has been non-stop.

“They posted traffic police officers on that corner, but it’s very sporadic,” he said, “especially during the morning, rush from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., and then rush hour in the afternoon around 5 p.m. It gets so crazy that residents can’t even get out of their driveway.”

Trombley has recorded how bad traffic gets and personally reached out to the NYPD to ask for help, but he believes as long as construction on the bridge continues, conditions will remain the same.

“My personal investment is that I live on the block,” he said. “I’ve put a few videos up and sent them to the 109th Precinct, and sent the videos to Chief Chang, who is in charge of NYPD traffic. Again things slightly improved for a few weeks, but it won’t work all the way to October. We just put up with it as we can.”

According to Avella, MTA has not responded to his latest letter, but he is expecting a response.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.