Bayside residents who say their neighborhood has been severed after the state ripped down two aging pedestrian ramps are calling for their return.
The two ramps that ran under the Long Island Rail Road trestle on the east and west sides of the Clearview Expressway service road were demolished on June 23 by New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT). They were permanently closed on Jan. 13 after the state agency decided they were “underutilized and in poor condition.”
State Senator Tony Avella and residents met at the site of the now-gone ramps on July 17 and discussed the impact their demolition has had on their friends and neighbors.
Community leader Henry Euler said he and other residents reached out to local state representatives Avella and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and penned a letter to the NYS DOT to express their vexation after learning about the January closure.
“It’s really a very bad situation,” Euler said. “We got responses from our elected officials, but no positive response from the Department [of Transportation] … We’re here today to insist those ramps be replaced so that our community members can walk from one area of Bayside to another, and not be cut off from our neighbors.”
First constructed in the 1960s, the ramps were built at the same time as the Clearview Expressway and served as the connection between the two sides of the neighborhood split by the new roadway.
“You really have to live here to understand the significance of these pedestrian passings,” Avella said. “The key here is the state and the city committed to having these overpasses as part of the construction of the Clearview [Expressway]. We want them back. It’s as simple as that.”
The state senator said it will now be up to Governor Andrew Cuomo to allocate funding into next year’s budget to have them replaced.
“Let’s face it: we see money being spent by the city and state in places where it shouldn’t be,” Avella said. “Here’s a community need. The community was promised this. We want them back, and we’re going to fight until we get them back.”
Diane Park, a spokesperson for NYS DOT, said the agency does not currently plan on replacing the ramps and suggested residents take one of two alternate routes in place of the shortcut.
“These ramps were underutilized and, while safe, in poor condition,” NYS DOT spokesperson Diane Park said. “Pedestrians needing to cross the LIRR can do so safely at Corporal Kennedy Street or Francis Lewis Boulevard, which are nearby.”
Avella said he will try to work with Cuomo to allocate the necessary funding.