The NYC Department of Transportation has plans for a dedicated bus lane along the Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevard thoroughfare; and, yes, a modified Manhattan style transportation concept eliminating curbside parking along certain section of the route could decrease travel time for local buses and safely provide additional parking for the communities of Woodhaven and Ozone Park.
The geometrics of the roadway in selected areas allow for the cars to be parked along the median side of the service road thereby yielding more than 100 parking spots than what is presently available to these communities. This concept allows safer, more unrestricted travel along the curbside. With regard to the safety aspect, the drivers of parked vehicles would not be entering his/her vehicle from the roadway. The erection of safety fencing similar to that installed on Queens Boulevard’s service road protects the driver and would thwart people from crossing mid-block.
The addition of the Blue Light Express (Select Bus Service) means passengers could travel non-stop from the Rockaways to Queens Center Mall up/down the main roadway. The Blue Light Express would be an articulated bus which could carry more than 100 passengers.
In addition to the above noted recommendations, there are several choke points along the route that must be redesigned. Without question, the mother of all intersections, the Cross Bay Blvd/ Rockaway Blvd/Liberty Ave/95th Street junction requires deep thought and a moment of reflection.
Next is the Cross Bay Blvd/Belt Pkwy/Nassau Expwy junction that must be redesigned to handle the 21st century volume of traffic that accesses these roadways.
Another choke point that could be easily eliminated is the left-hand bus turn at Union Turnpike. The bus should make a right-hand turn at Union Turnpike and then a “buses only” U-turn at 88th Street to continue eastbound on Union Turnpike.
All turning bays should be increased in length where ever possible to accommodate vehicles; it would prevent the travel lanes from being blocked.
In order to expedite travel, raise the speed on the main roadway to 40MPH and lengthen the time for a GREEN light on the Woodhaven/Cross Bay Blvd thoroughfare. In support of the higher speed limit, and to prevent a head-on collision, Jersey barriers should be installed between the north and southbound lanes where it is indeed necessary.
Moreover, continued enforcement of traffic control, Manhattan style, is imperative for a smooth flow of traffic during rush periods.
Traffic controls and signage must be re-examined along the route. For example, advanced signage should be placed along the southbound roadway after Liberty Avenue to provide needed time and distance to allow safe and smooth integration of traffic that is going eastbound or westbound on the Belt Parkway. The protected turn signal at this junction should be re-examined and the re-construction of the west-bound cloverleaf entrance at this location should be given consideration because the westbound traffic protected turning bay cannot handle the volume of 21st century traffic at this location.
In addition to the above noted observations and recommendations, 149th Ave at Cross Bay Blvd should have signage indicating turn here for Conduit Blvd West and Linden Blvd to Brooklyn.
At the T junction of Conduit Blvd South and Cross Bay Blvd, the median on Cross Bay should be pulled back to provide a greater turning radius for the large buses and trucks turning left heading north from Conduit Blvd South.
Since I first began several weeks ago gathering my thoughts for this article, the DOT has begun initiating their plans along the northern section of Woodhaven Blvd. And, yesterday while I was driving south through the Rego Park section of the Woodhaven/ Cross Bay Transportation Corridor, I quickly realized just how impractical, unsafe and outright dangerous their concept is. First, the dedicated bus lane will have double-parked trucks in it. Second, the drivers are forced to enter their vehicle from the dedicated bus lane. Third, the many restaurants along the Rego Park section will suffer a severe economic hardship because of the lack of parking.
Moreover, it is indeed past time that the NYCDOT hold more public hearings regarding this project in publicly accessible facilities; the general public and not just the insiders should have ample opportunity to weigh in on it, because we are the constituents that must live with it.
**The views expressed in this column represent only those of the author and not the board or membership of the Juniper Park Civic Association.