By Carlotta Mohamed
Lawmakers and community leaders celebrated new street conversions near PS 163 at 159-01 59th Ave. in Flushing last week, after years of advocacy from the school and civic leaders to ensure the safety of students and families.
State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and other community leaders thanked the city Department of Transportation for converting 159th Street and 160th Street from a two-way street to a one-way street.
“The PS. 163 Flushing Heights community has gone for far too long without additional measures to make streets safer for local families and children,” said Rozic. “I am glad that the city Department of Transportation has implemented these changes and am confident that they will significantly ease congestion in the Queensboro Hill area.”
Responding to traffic congestion caused by pick-up and drop-off of kids at PS 163, Rozic, Stavisky, and Koo contacted the DOT requesting a traffic study to determine the feasibility of potential additional safety measures for the area surrounding the school. The agency had determined that the school was eligible for street conversions and scheduled implementation to occur July 17.
“Converting 159th Street and 160th Street to one-ways will simplify vehicular movements around the school and make pedestrian crossings safer and more predictable,” said Nicole Garcia, DOT’s Queens borough commissioner. “DOT is excited to implement this change around PS 163.”
Francine Marsaggi, principal of PS 163, said she was thrilled that the street changes surrounding the building were taking effect and would be in place before the start of the school year.
“This is a long time coming and will help ease the dangerous traffic conditions that our community contends with on a daily basis,” Marsaggi said. “I believe these changes will allow for smoother and safer transitions during our morning ingress and our afternoon dismissal.”
Koo said the modifications show that when the city is willing to work with communities in “good faith, real progress can be made.”
Stavisky added that the “seemingly small change will create a safer environment for pedestrians and drivers.”
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha