2016-04-13 / Editorials

Oppose Select Bus

A copy of this letter was received at the Queens Gazette.
April 5, 2016
Polly Trottenberg
NYC DOT Commissioner
30-30 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
Dear Commissioner Trottenberg:

In May of 2015, I wrote this letter regarding our Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation/Woodhaven Business Improvement District opposition to the Select Bus Service Proposal for Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue:
“The Woodhaven Business Improvement District, as in its stated position in May 2015, is still opposed to the Select Bus Service – our opposition being that the left-turn off of Woodhaven Boulevard onto Jamaica Avenue will be eliminated. This proposed change then would place on our residential streets the traffic that would normally turn onto Jamaica Avenue.
“The MTA/DOT Plan for Select Bus Service – The chosen change for our Woodhaven Boulevard is labeled Concept 2…This change is structured to create a “transit oriented Boulevard” buses travel in designated lanes in the main roadway. This will allow customers to pay the fare before boarding. This is being done on the island divider in the middle of Woodhaven Boulevard. This also will remove an entire lane of traffic and put pedestrians in harm’s way on the island. This, our New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo has stated, is ‘irresponsible and unacceptable.’
“Also, left turns will be banned. This means no turns onto Woodhaven’s Jamaica Avenue, which will hurt our Woodhaven Business Improvement District Avenue shopping, for the next left turn will not be until Atlantic Avenue. Also agreeing with this statement is our NYS Assemblyman Michael Miller.
“This also means that with these designated bus lanes, the displaced vehicular traffic will be sent through our residential streets endangering our residents, especially our children and our elderly. This is a $200 million project, (now maybe $400 million) so let us be very careful that it is done the right way, safely, for our Woodhaven residents, not hurting the economy of our Woodhaven Shopping Strip and not losing Woodhaven parking spaces.”
Since that time the Woodhaven Business Improvement District along with the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, has formed a coalition with the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association and the Residents’ Task Force Committee for an informed, safer, and better Woodhaven. The issues that the New York City Department of Transportation has stated to us as issues are listed with my suggested solutions:
1.    Poor visibility under the elevated train, this can be corrected by installing strong lighting under the elevated train for a block length on the four sides of Jamaica Avenue, under the elevated train.
2.    High pedestrian volumes. This can be corrected by slowing of crossing traffic lights on Jamaica Avenue and the corners at both sides of Woodhaven Boulevard. Also, countdown signs on Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue.
3.    Very long crossing distances – again, lengthen the time of the lights and the installation of countdown signs on the Woodhaven islands.
4.    Left hand turning paths, etc. (see attached summary) on Jamaica Avenue and on Woodhaven Boulevard post signs at least one block prior to the Jamaica Avenue turns, stating turn signs are approaching onto Woodhaven’s Jamaica Avenue.
Some of these suggested improvements have been made to the Queens DOT in the past, such as slowing of the crossing traffic lights on Jamaica Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard. The proposed design of a left turn southbound on 86th Road and northbound on 85th Road to Jamaica Avenue’s WBID will not work; the reason being the traffic that usually would turn onto Jamaica Avenue will have to proceed to 85th Road and 86th Road, residential streets. Also, if this traffic passes our WBID and has to turn around and come back to it, they are not going to do it. This traffic will proceed to shop and dine elsewhere. This is why the Coalition of Woodhaven Organizations has been formed and petitions collected from everyone of our small business owners on our WBID and 300 from our residents. We are of the same mind to keep Jamaica Avenue traffic off of our local residential streets and on to our WBID Jamaica Avenue’s Shopping Strip – we state in unison “Say No To No Left Turns!”  Our Coalition hopes that you will support our opposition to the SBS Project because of how detrimental and deadly it would be to our Woodhaven’s economy and our residents.
Mathew Xenakis President,Woodhaven BID;
Maria A. Thomson
Executive Director, Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation,
Woodhaven BID

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