2005-08-03 / Features

Funding Approved For Road Improvements All Over Queens

By John Toscano


Queens lawmakers in Washington last week secured millions of dollars for major street and road improvements throughout the borough that will produce jobs and improve safety for motorists and pedestrians.

“Let’s make no mistake about it, this bill is a big victory for New York,” Congressmember Carolyn Maloney declared. The passage of the Transportation Equity Act (TEA) will bring $10 billion for New York state and millions of dollars for New York City. “This windfall will help ease transportation headaches for New Yorkers,” Maloney added.

Congressmember Joseph Crowley added that the funding will relieve traffic congestion by bringing better roads, improved pedestrian and vehicular access and much needed renovations for streets and intersections throughout Queens.

“New York City’s transit needs are among the most substantial in the nation. It’s imperative we get our fair share to make New York’s transit system more secure, efficient and sustainable,” added Congressmember Anthony Weiner.

Following the bill’s passage last week just before Congress took a summer recess, Congressmember Gary Ackerman hailed it and said President George W. Bush was expected to sign it into law.

Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) reported that among the projects funded was a $6.4 million grant to advance the reconstruction of the Queens Plaza foot of the Queensboro Bridge. Another gives almost $2 million toward the full reconstruction of all the streets in Long Island City surrounding 11th Street.

On the eastern end of the borough, Ackerman (D–Bayside/Long Island) cited several projects for improvement in Downtown Flushing, Bayside, in Fort Totten, near Shea Stadium and in waterfront areas.

Expansion of the Little Bay Park parking lot in Fort Totten is covered by a $2.24 million allotment. The number of spaces will increase from 136 to 285, an exit from the park to the Cross Island Parkway will be created and water drainage will be improved.

Ackerman said almost $3.5 million was provided for pedestrian and reconstruction of the Cross Island Bridge overpass and 212th Street in Bayside, the only road providing access to Fort Totten, which is now a public park.

Under the plans, 212th Street will be reconstructed from the Cross Island Parkway service road to Bell Boulevard, and 212th Street will be realigned at certain locations to improve traffic flow. Access to the Bayside waterfront bicycle path will also be improved.

In Downtown Flushing, Ackerman said, an $880,000 project will increase connectivity for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles between the Downtown Flushing retail core/transit hub and areas located to the west including College Point Boulevard, Shea Stadium, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park and the Flushing World’s Fair Marina. The project will also reduce traffic congestion.

Another $800,000 will be used to study, design and build bikeway, pedestrian and traffic flow improvements in Downtown Flushing. These will be undertaken in conjunction with the city Economic Development Corporation, which recently issued a contract for a huge project on the site of Flushing’s Municipal Parking Lot No. 1 on 39th Avenue between Union and Main Streets.

Another $384,000 will fund a project to improve Roosevelt Avenue waterfront access. It is designed to improve the underutilized, city-owned waterfront site located under and adjacent to the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge to provide pedestrian and bicycle access to the Flushing River waterfront, and is a mandated component of the Downtown Flushing Waterfront Access Plan developed by the City Council, Ackerman said.

Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) reported he had secured $1.65 million for improvements in the Queens portion of his district.

Specifically, $700,000 has been allocated for streetscape improvement along 20th Avenue in College Point, a major east-west corridor and shopping center in the area. Crowley said the project is designed to make the neighborhood more pedestrian friendly and improve traffic flow in a vital commercial corridor.

Crowley also secured $640,000 for traffic improvements around the Victor Moore Bus Arcade in Jackson Heights, which recently reopened after a major renovation and makeover.

“The project will be a community-based, congestion reduction, traffic flow improvement,” said Crowley, noting the many bus routes that converge at the bus terminal.

Another $200,000 was provided for a graffiti elimination program, now in the early stages of development, that will focus on cleaning up graffiti on streets, billboards and playgrounds

Crowley said that a $100,000 program is also planned to implement a signage system on the Long Island Expressway eastbound service road from 74th Street to Caldwell Avenue, Grand Avenue from 69th Street to Flushing Avenue, and Eliot Avenue from 69th Street to Woodhaven Boulevard, all in the Maspeth/Elmhurst area. These roads are heavily used, especially by trucks coming off the Long Island Expressway.

Also funded under the approved bill is $15 million for ferry service to be established between the Rockaway Peninsula and Manhattan, Weiner (D-Queens/Brooklyn) reported. This has been a major priority for the lawmaker for the past several years.

Another $6.8 million will cover safety improvements, including $2.5 million for projects in the vicinity of city schools, $600,000 for pedestrian safety in each borough and $500,000 for Queens Boulevard improvements, Weiner said.

The bill authorizes funding for the six fiscal years from 2004 through 2009, including $10 billion for the New York state highway system, Maloney said.

The lawmaker said that packages of $158 million for advancement of the Second Avenue Subway project and $390 million for the project to bring Long Island Rail Road trains to Grand Central Station were also included in the mammoth legislation.

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