Photo via Google Maps
The broken guardrail along 56th Road in Maspeth.

A potentially dangerous street condition in Maspeth is finally being addressed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) more than two years after a local resident filed a complaint with the agency.

The situation was brought to light in January of 2016 by Middle Village resident David Paz, who informed the DOT that a guardrail along the south side of 56th Road between 43rd Street and Maspeth Avenue had been severely damaged and needed to be repaired.

Photos revealed that the guardrail was in fact lying on the sidewalk on many parts of that stretch, detached from the bollards that normally hold it in place.

The rail serves as a barrier between the sidewalk and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tracks used for freight operations, and the industrial area is frequented by large trucks that park along 56th Road.

On July 19, more than two years later, a DOT spokesperson confirmed that jersey barriers — concrete or plastic barriers typically used to separate traffic — would be installed at the site this week, weather permitting. The statement came after QNS obtained copies of letters between DOT officials and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who had been advocating for the guardrail to be fixed on Paz’s behalf, revealing that the agency had stalled in its response to the matter.

After Paz filed his complaint, Nolan also sent a letter to the DOT in January of 2016 to inquire about the unsafe guardrails. In the agency’s response to Paz in March of 2016, it said “we appreciate your concerns and will make every effort to address the issue that you’ve raised.”

The following May, Nolan received a letter from DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg explaining that the guardrail “cannot be easily repaired” because it is encased in cement. The guardrail must be removed, redesigned and then re-installed, the letter said.

“DOT’s Design and Construction Unit will begin the redesign process and DOT’s Arterial Maintenance and Sidewalk Management Divisions will work together to install the new guardrail,” Trottenberg said in the letter.

Well over a year later, however, Paz wrote to Nolan in October on 2017 to tell her that nothing had been done about the condition of the dangerous guardrail.

Nolan continued to apply pressure to get information from the agency by sending another followup letter to Trotttenberg in May of 2018.

“Due to the seriousness of this situation and the extended period of time, I would like to know an update on the work being done to correct this very dangerous situation,” Nolan wrote.

Three weeks later, Nolan received a response from DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia, who apologized for the delay in repairing the guardrail. Garcia explained that since the guardrail runs along the LIRR tracks, the DOT had to coordinate with the MTA regarding its replacement.

Garcia also said that 80 to 100 feet of jersey barrier would be installed along 56th Road from 48th Street to 49th Street this summer.

While it is framed as good news, that is only a fraction of the area that Paz originally pointed out, and it’s only a temporary solution.

The DOT will notify Nolan once it has installed the barriers, Garcia said.

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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. July 27, 2018 / 05:24PM
Dimwitted DOT as always.
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