City announces plan to ease congestion on major roadways in four Queens neighborhoods

Photo via Mayor’s Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Oct. 22 that the city would undertake a number of initiatives to ease traffic congestion in busy thoroughfares across the five boroughs.

As part of the five-point plan, the city will start a pilot program to test curb access restriction starting in January 2018. The commercial corridor on Roosevelt Avenue from Broadway to 108th Street in Jackson Heights and Corona was chosen as one of three areas to participate.

For six months, curbside loading will be banned on both sides of the street on the pilot corridor during peak hours from 7 a.m. through 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. through 7 p.m. 

Passengers will still be able to be picked up and dropped off in the area and deliveries will be allowed in off-street loading docks.

The corridor was chosen because it carries high levels of traffic and experiences “significant blockages by double parking and delivery activity,” according to the announcement. The NYPD will monitor the locations to keep curbs clear.

Data will be collected on on traffic congestion, double parking, delivery activity and curb regulation compliance before and after the six-month pilot period.

Several commercial districts will also be dubbed “clear zones” and the city will make efforts to redesign streets and make signal timing changes to ease congestion.

In downtown Flushing, the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) will reconstruct Main Street and expand sidewalks along the thoroughfare. The Department of Transportation (DOT) will also implement “Flushing in Motion,” a signal system similar to one that was installed in Midtown. Both projects will be completed by the end of 2017.

DOT is currently working on a congestion action plan for downtown Jamaica in addition to a larger Jamaica transportation study, which will be released in 2018. The plan will include recommendations for street redesign, signal timing changes, one-way street conversions and curb regulation changes to reduce congestion.

“With 8.5 million people, New York City is experiencing both record population and economic vitality; but our success has put serious demands on our already crowded street network,” de Blasio said in a statement. “New Yorkers have been telling me loud and clear about the quality-of-life problems created by traffic where they live and work.  With a targeted effort to help clear travel lanes, delivery zones, intersections and highways, these initiatives will address these concerns head-on, using established and new tools that will keep our city moving, from Midtown to all of our neighborhoods.”

The NYPD will also increase enforcement on cars who “block the box” at 50 key intersections around the city. The DOT will install special markings and update signage to make drivers aware of these restrictions while the NYPD will hire 50 officers to enforce the rules.

The city will target 30 intersections within Manhattan and 20 intersections in the four remaining boroughs.

As part of its “Clear Highways” initiative, state and local officials will take part in task forces to ease congestion in highways that our outside of the city’s jurisdiction. It currently does not include any Queens highway but Councilman Rory Lancman is hoping that changes in the months to come.

“Congestion is a serious problem, wasting countless hours of New Yorkers’ lives and impeding our economy — and not just in Manhattan,” Lancman said. “I’m particularly glad to see that downtown Jamaica in my district is included in the mayor’s plan, and I look forward to working with the administration to unfreeze traffic in this important commercial district. I also hope we can expand the ‘Clear Highways’ initiative to include the Grand Central Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway and Long Island Expressway in the areas around Flushing Meadows Corona Park.”

Several city agencies will work together to coordinate the implementation of this plan, including the DOT, NYPD, the Taxi and Limousine Commission,, the Economic Development Corporation, DDC and the Department of Finance.