BY MICHAEL RIZZO
A spirited discussion of plans for a bike lane along Northern Boulevard in Bayside took up most of Community Board 11’s monthly meeting on Monday night, as the advisory body rejected a NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) lane proposal that it had approved in June and sent the agency an alternate one.
But officials with the DOT said they’ve already begun implementing the plan recommended in June to create the lane along the thoroughfare between between 223rd Street and Douglaston Parkway.
The board’s new proposal would expand the sidewalk on the north side of the boulevard to make a wide pathway that would be used by pedestrians and bikers while keeping the roadway unchanged. The plan that the DOT has put into motion will eliminate a lane of westbound traffic and resurface it as a new bike lane. A concrete barrier for most of the route would separate the bike lane from cars driving on the street.
Board 11 member Bernard Haber recommended the new proposal during the Sept. 11 meeting at M.S. 158. He said his plan would provide more safety for bikers, would only cost about $600,000 and could be completed quickly.
Haber was especially concerned about the section of Northern Boulevard over the Cross Island Parkway. He said the DOT’s plan to simply change a traffic lane to a bike lane there was very dangerous because of the highway’s entrance and exit ramps.
DOT officials in attendance disputed Haber’s cost estimate as too low, and said the plan approved in June was safe and the most immediate to construct.
The officials said Haber’s proposal could run up to $10 million and take years to complete due in part to the need to reconstruct the Alley Creek Bridge that spans the boulevard, and to compensate the Parks Department for uprooting trees along the route of the wider sidewalk.
While the board voted in favor of Haber’s proposal, the support was not unanimous. Some members argued the board’s action in June had already gone through appropriate review. An additional objection was that Haber’s wider sidewalk put pedestrians in harm’s way by having them share the space with bikers.
“We have agreed to look at Mr. Haber’s plan,” said Ted Wright, director of the Bicycle Program for the DOT, “but the June proposal is already underway. Construction hasn’t started but we’re arranging work contracts and obtaining supplies.”
“They’d be foolish to implement the first plan,” Haber said after the vote. “One accident on their plan and the city will have serious liability issues. I hope our elected officials will review and support tonight’s plan.”
Little Neck group home plan pulled
A potentially contentious issue on the board’s agenda was averted when Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York announced to the roughly 100 people at the meeting that it would not develop a group home at 249-60 Beechknoll Ave. in Little Neck.
Joseph Cannizzaro, director of facilities and transportation at Little Flower, said his organization acted after there was strong opposition by residents during the August meeting of the board’s Group Home Committee.
Little Flower’s plan for a group home at 216-12 Union Tpke. in Hollis Hills will move forward after the board unanimously supported the Committee’s recommendation to approve that home’s development.