Liu said the city expects to complete the sale of the Flushing Airport within the next few months, which will add money to the city budget that could then be invested in traffic alleviation in College Point.
He said he could not comment further on the sale of the airport until the Economic Development Corporation makes its announcement, which he expects soon.
The councilman's proposal for a new road comes in addition to state Department of Transportation work already in progress on the Whitestone Expressway to improve traffic conditions in the region.
Liu said he hopes to see the approval of a $10 million plan for a new road from Linden Place through the site of the former Flushing Airport to 20th Avenue.
An announcement about the roadway initiative should be made within the next few weeks.
"The fundamental problem there is that there are just too many cars trying to squeeze through that space," the councilman said. "The only real way to alleviate that congestion is by giving drivers a more expedient way to get to the 20th Avenue stores and offices."
On the Whitestone Expressway, drivers should see state DOT construction equipment on the roadway from now until the summer of 2006, according to the latest DOT projections.
Lighting on the right side of the road is completed and the grade work from Linden Place to the split between the Whitestone Bridge and Cross Island Parkway is "substantially complete."
But median lights on both the northbound and southbound sides of the expressway still need to be installed between Linden Place and the Whitestone Bridge, according to the DOT.
The roughly $178 million state project on the Whitestone Expressway will add surveillance to the roadway, improve the lighting and drainage, widen lanes and add U-turns.
Construction created significant traffic delays on the Whitestone Expressway last year, but congestion appears to be easing, possibly as a result of the project's partial completion.
The contract for the roadway was awarded last January and work began in the weeks that followed, DOT spokeswoman Lisa Kuhner said.
The roadway will soon have an Intelligent Transportation System, which will include the installation of Closed Circuit Television. The cameras monitor traffic and will be used to notify drivers of any slowdowns on the roadway via traffic alerts.
"It's new technology and it really provides for people to see on all the roads," Kuhner said. "They are coming about within Queens and Long Island so we can know what's going on with the traffic situation."
The state has also placed cameras on the Long Island Expressway and the Van Wyck Expressway, Kuhner said.
The DOT is also widening the roadway's lanes from their current 10-foot width to the standard 12-foot width. In addition, the DOT will add two U-turns at Linden Place and College Point Boulevard.
Traffic in and around the Whitestone Expressway has been the subject of public debate in Flushing and College Point.
In October, local politicians met to discuss the traffic situation on 20th Avenue, which arches over the expressway.
Liu said the city is also planning to add a right-turn lane to the northbound Whitestone Expressway service road at 20th Avenue to alleviate traffic there. That $1.8 million project was financed by federal funds secured by U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights).
The city is still sitting on a plan to widen 20th Avenue between the Whitestone Expressway and Parsons Boulevard. That plan would take land from in front of 11 residents' homes in order to expand the roadway and alleviate congestion. Liu said he is opposed to this project in favor of his plan to build a roadway through the existing Flushing Airport property.
"It's clear to myself and many of the people living in that area that this kind of project would only have benefits of a short-term nature while having negative consequences for the homeowners on 20th Avenue forever," Liu said.
He said he plans to lobby against the road-widening once the budget is drawn up in City Council.
"I believe there needs to be a new road to take people from Linden Place through the Flushing Airport straight to 20th Avenue," he said.
The road Liu is proposing is estimated to cost about $10 million. He said the funding could be made possible by the impending sale of the Flushing Airport.
The airport's sale, he said, will bring a significant amount of money into the city budget, and he hopes that some of that is invested in Flushing.
Liu said the EDC will release specific numbers surrounding the sale of the airport within the next few months. An announcement about the potential new road could come within the next few weeks.
Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2004 Community News Group
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