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DOT installs meters along Queens Blvd.

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The city Department of Transportation installed the first 117 parking meters of more than 300 planned for Queens Boulevard service lanes May 23 in Forest Hills and Rego Park, DOT officials said.

“As we promised, our efforts to improve safety along Queens Boulevard are continuing,” said DOT spokesman Tom Cocola. “With this new traffic-calming plan, we are hoping to create some new parking opportunities and slow down traffic to acceptable speeding limits.”

Eastbound the meters were placed between 71st Avenue and 77th Avenue. Westbound the meters were located between 77th Avenue and 71st Road.

The project will affect the strip of Queens Boulevard between Kneeland Avenue and Union Turnpike which runs through Elmhurst, Rego Park and Forest Hills. The full project is expected to be completed by mid-June, said Cocola.

The city converted the inner east and westbound service lanes in an effort to shift motorists into the main flow of the boulevard. The DOT has contended that motorists in the service lanes drive faster than when they are on the main roadway.

Queens Boulevard, where 74 pedestrians have been killed since 1993, has long been considered one of the city’s most dangerous roadways.

While residents have pushed for solutions to create safer conditions for pedestrians, the latest measure has not been warmly welcomed.

“People aren’t too happy about it,” said Kenny Liebowitz of Traymore Chemists, where two lanes of metered parking now stand outside his Queens Boulevard pharmacy.

“I can just see it. A passenger comes out of their car and somebody comes speeding along. Somebody’s going to get hit,” he said.

Liebowitz said in the short time the meters have been up he has already witnessed unprecedented congestion between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

But others, like Oscar Arboleda, a deliveryman for Five Star Seafood, are pleased with the changes.

“I think it’s wonderful. They should have done this a long time ago because anytime you don’t find parking, you get ticketed,” Arboleda said.

Arboleda had received three parking tickets during the past six weeks, he said, but because of the added parking he expects that to change.

The city has taken a number of steps to slow traffic during the past year, including extending pedestrian crossing times and installing fencing along median strips to encourage crossing within crosswalks only.

Sgt. Fabian Rojas of the 112th Precinct observed the traffic flow from his idling car on the corner of Queens Boulevard and 72nd Avenue last Thursday.

He said it was too early to tell what effect the meters may have, but “inevitably this will delay you and you’re going to be in the main road” when motorists are forced back into traffic by the jammed side road.

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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