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Local roads get smoother with time

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When it comes to “smooth,” many people might think of Queens native and Milwaukee Bucks point guard, the silky smooth Rafer Alston, as he drives to the basket. But for the residents of Community Board 13 “smooth” conjures up a picture of the neighborhood’s roads.

In a recent report by the Fund for the City of New York’s Center on Municipal Government Performance, the neighborhoods of Glen Oaks, Bellerose, Floral Park, Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens had the greatest improvement in road smoothness scores. The area jumped from having the 25th smoothest streets in the city in 1997 to No. 2 in 1999.

The huge improvement should be a pleasant surprise to many people in the community, who have complained about the condition of the area’s thoroughfares over the years.

“The roads are definitely better,” said Sally Martino Fisher, Community Board 13 district manager. “In the 9 1/2 years that I have been here, there has definitely been an improvement.”

She said the main problem is that after a road is resurfaced, one of the utility companies or the cable company comes in and tears it up to do work, which she said needs to stop.

“There are a lot of projects in the area that are getting resurfaced,” she said. “I can’t wait until they resurface Springfield Boulevard between Jamaica Avenue and 114th Avenue — it is atrocious.”

Starting in late 1999, the Center on Municipal Government Performance sent a test car across 670 miles of randomly selected routes covering 59 community districts. The car was equipped with a laser device known as a profilometer that produces “objective, reliable and accurate measurements about variations in the surface of streets, recording every dip and rise along the path,” the center’s report said.

It found that 75.7 percent of the roads in Community Board 13 earned a rating of “acceptable” in the smoothness test, which was an improvement of more than 15 percent from 1997.

But the area, which covers a total of nearly 300 street miles — or 3,968 blocks — only ranked 25th out of the 59 communities throughout the city in jolts per miles. There were 7.53 jolts encountered per mile, but that was about 76 percent fewer jolts than in 1997. Jolts refer to street irregularities like ridges, holes and bumps.

Barbara Cohn, president of the non-profit Fund for the City of New York, said at the time the report was published she was encouraged by fewer jolts than in the previous survey.

The survey found that Queens had the highest proportion of smooth streets at 65 percent — vs. 64 percent in 1997 — with the fewest number of jolts per mile at 6.7 compared with 9.3 in 1997.

City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) said he was extremely pleased with the report. He stressed that in 1987 the city Department of Transportation made a commitment to fix the deteriorating roads in Queens Village caused by flooding. In 1997, he said, the DOT received the funds to start the project.

“A lesson learned from this project is not to give up,” Leffler said. “Citizens must stick with the program and work with the city for projects necessary for the communities were they live.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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