Construction to accommodate Select Bus Service at the confluence of Cross Bay Boulevard, Rockaway Boulevard and Liberty Avenue will not be complete until next month.
But residents and civic leaders are already saying things appear to be as bad, if not worse, then they have feared.
“This,” said a grim-voiced Vance Barbour of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, “is our ‘I told you so.’”
When completed, what was three travel lanes and a service road headed northbound will become two; bus stops along the curb will be moved across the service road to a median; the travel lane adjacent to the median will become a 24/7 bus lane; and the left turn from northbound Cross Bay to Rockaway Boulevard will be eliminated, along with the turning lane, forcing cars — and trucks — to take more roundabout routes.
Bus stops already are being installed on islands on the southbound side, with machines selling SBS tickets not far behind.
Residents long have complained that the intersection forms a bottleneck during rush hour, backing traffic up for blocks.
The city’s Department of Transportation has asserted that reducing the number of lanes will improve traffic by helping create a more uniform traffic pattern along the entire corridor.
A more uniform lane configuration, along with the elimination of some left turns such as the one at Rockaway Boulevard, are designed to reduce the amount of lane merging that is said to be responsible for a great deal of congestion.
The construction is nearing completion, even over the constant and strenuous objections of residents and community leaders such as state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven).
“Nothing makes sense,” Howard Beach Resident Joseph Cerbone told the Chronicle. “We didn’t OK any of this ... They did just what they wanted to do. It was nightmare and they’re making it worse.”
From the Queens Chronicle:
In his letter, Avella added that there was a dangerous lack of signage for drivers at the location, which is an active construction area because of ongoing work for the bike lane. The senator also urged de Blasio and the DOT to abandon the bike lane plan and take up a different proposal for Northern supported by Community Board 11.
The office of Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said he too has been in touch with city authorities.
“In response to the accidents and the community’s concerns, we reached out to the DOT to ask them to expedite the installation of signage and reflective panels to both inform motorists of the change in the traffic pattern and make the barriers more visible,” Vallone’s office said in an email.
Vallone’s opponent in November, Paul Graziano, said the bike lane has created “an extremely dangerous situation” and that the city shouldn’t install them on “what is essentially a highway.” Graziano, who lost the Democratic primary to Vallone but remains on the Reform Party line, is an urban planner who helped design the alternative bike lane proposal now backed by CB 11.
“You do not create something unless it’s well thought out, well planned and won’t be a negative,” he said.
In a statement, the transportation agency defended the barrier.
“These barriers did their job to protect those in the bike lane from accelerating turning vehicles,” the DOT said in an email last Friday. More signs, the agency said, are coming.
“In the next few days we will be installing additional safety treatments like reflective tape and flexible delineators that have been part of the design from the beginning of this project, to increase protection and awareness for all street users,” the agency said.