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Residents cry for better traffic solution

In a Tuesday night meeting with local elected officials, more than 100 Whitestone residents demanded the city come up with a better solution for traffic woes in the environs of 20th Avenue, the artery leading to the College Point Corporate Park.

"I'm not going to take it anymore," said Nicholas Miglino, a resident of 20th Avenue and member of Community Board 7, in the meeting at the Holy Trinity School in Malba. "It's gotten to the point that you really can't do anything on 20th Avenue without encountering a serious traffic problem."

The event was organized by Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside). Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) also attended. City Department of Transportation officials did not show up.

The discussion focused on the city's plan to improve traffic conditions on 20th Avenue.

Since big-box retailers opened on 20th Avenue on the College Point side of the Whitestone Expressway several years ago, traffic on the Whitestone side of the highway has gotten much worse, according to residents.

The road becomes particularly congested during rush hour, backing up 20th Avenue in Whitestone, residents said.

"Never have we endured what we are living through the last few years," one woman told the councilmen. "It's hell."

In order to relieve the congestion, the city has developed a plan to widen 20th Avenue for one block between the expressway and Parsons Boulevard.

That plan, however, is controversial. It relies on taking city-owned property from the front lawns of residents on 20th Avenue, and those residents are not happy.

Some also wondered if the $1.09 million project, scheduled to begin next year, would actually reduce traffic since it affects only one block.

Both Avella and Liu agreed that the current plan is not adequate.

"This is a cheap solution, although it is really not a solution," Avella said.

Some suggested that the city let the homeowners keep their lawns, and instead take land away from a corner gas station and a park, allowing for a right turn lane at two intersections.

Some also recommended building a bridge crossing the Whitestone Expressway at 25th Road. The proposed road would create another way to gain access to the corporate park.

The city has rejected the proposed bridge in the past, saying it is too expensive.

Liu promised the audience that DOT officials soon would come to 20th Avenue to discuss the problem with residents.

"We want to try to get them to understand what people have to live through," he said.

Avella, who told the crowd, "I am not as nice as John," was more quick to place the blame on the DOT.

"The situation wouldn't exist if they had done the proper planning," he said. "They knew this was a problem 25 years ago."

Joseph DiMasso, who lives on 9th Avenue, said residents needed to develop a reasonable plan before meeting with the DOT.

"To go in there and start screaming gets us nowhere," he said.

DiMasso urged the crowd to stage a protest on the issue.

"If you don't do it, shame on you, and you deserve what you get," he said before stepping down to a round of applause.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.

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