Queens lawmaker urges DOT to install better signage along Main Street Busway alerting motorists of changes

DOT Flushing bus
Councilwoman Sandra Ung called on the DOT to improve signage alerting motorists they are about to illegally enter the Flushing Main Street Busway. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

Councilwoman Sandra Ung is urging the city Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve signage alerting motorists they are about to illegally enter the Flushing Main Street Busway.

Ung sent a letter to DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez on Wednesday, March 9, about an issue that was brought to her attention regarding camera-enforced restrictions along the street. 

The councilwoman’s office was alerted that drivers have been receiving summonses, in some cases multiple times, for failing to turn off Main Street at 37th Avenue where the busway begins. The intersection is patrolled by a traffic camera. 

“While the drivers were violating traffic laws, many are doing so unintentionally because they are unaware of the busway’s existence,” Ung said in the letter. “I feel more can be done by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to ensure that drivers are aware of the changes and that summonses are never issued in the first place.”

Currently, there are two signs alerting motorists they are required to turn right at 37th Avenue, Ung said. The first is a few hundred feet from the intersection, while the second is at the intersection itself. Both signs are white and do not stand out in the streetscape. 

There is also a “Do Not Enter” sign on the southwest corner of the intersection, but it’s relatively small, Ung said. Given the congested nature of downtown Flushing, Ung said it’s easy to see how a distracted driver could overlook the signs. Outside of those two signs, there are no other markings delineating the busway is about to begin.

Furthermore, the markings on the street seem to suggest there is a right-hand turn lane and that only vehicles in that lane — not all cars — are required to make the right-hand turn off Main Street, the councilwoman said. 

“Some motorists who received tickets say they were unaware of the new regulations. Because it can sometimes take two to three weeks for a summons to arrive by mail, some received multiple violations before they realized they were even committing an infraction,” Ung said. “Given the location directly off of Northern Boulevard, this is an intersection likely to see a larger number of visitors who do not live in Flushing and are therefore even less likely to be aware of the busway.”

Ung is suggesting that the DOT install larger and more conspicuous signage alerting drivers to the upcoming busway. 

“The ‘Do Not Enter’ sign in particular can be made larger, and the DOT should consider making the ‘All Traffic Must Turn Right at Next Intersection Except Trucks and Buses’ stand out visually,’” Ung said. “Another is to paint the busway red to signal to motorists it is not a general traffic lane. In fact, this is exactly the measure that was taken in downtown Jamaica.” 

Ung says she believes the DOT can take some fair and simple steps to alert motorists to these changes without resorting to costly fines.