Photo via DOT
The bike lanes on Queens Boulevard seen here will soon be implemented in the Forest Hills section of the road.

The final stage of safety improvements along Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills is set to begin in July, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) is likely to move forward with the project even if Community Board 6 votes against it.

At a Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting on May 23, first reported, a DOT representative presented the details of the fourth and final segment of Queens Boulevard — from Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike — that will receive bike lanes and pedestrian space on the corridor’s service roads. As one of the most significant projects in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, the project has moved forward in the past without community board approval.

On a call with QNS on June 4, Board 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio confirmed that the DOT made it clear the project will be completed no matter what, and the board may not even vote on it.

“The committee will report that they were given this information, and if someone from the board wants to call for a vote they most certainly can,” Gulluscio said. “But the bottom line is DOT and the administration are on a mission to complete this.”

The mile-long strip of Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills will receive the same treatment that Rego Park, Elmhurst and Woodside saw before it. Protected bike lanes and pedestrian space separated from the road by plastic bollards will be implemented along the median of the service roads; curb extensions will be painted; and stop-controlled slip lanes will control mergers from the boulevard to the service roads.

According to the DOT’s presentation to the Board 6 Transportation Committee, a survey conducted by the agency revealed that 65 percent of respondents think the project should be continued in Forest Hills. In addition, the presentation shows that cycling volumes in Rego Park along Queens Boulevard increased by 127 percent after the protected bike lanes were installed.

Even though the community board’s advisory role is likely to be ignored in this case, Gulluscio said that the DOT has promised to re-evaluate the safety improvements based on any feedback received after they have been implemented. If there are any issues that arise, the DOT said it will work with the community to resolve them, according to Gulluscio.

The final stage of the Queens Boulevard safety improvements will be presented at the full Board 6 meeting on June 13, beginning at 7:45 p.m. at 80-02 Kew Gardens Rd. on the second floor.


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