Today’s news:

City aims to ease Jax Hts. traffic woes

In response to the conditions, more than 100 Jackson Heights residents filled the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights at 37-06 77th St. Monday for a town hall meeting on traffic and transportation in the neighborhood organized by City Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights). The greatest number of complaints at the meeting focused on the north-south streets 73rd and 74th, with residents tired of loud buses and trucks, and double-parked cars. Jackson Heights has seen a rapid growth of more than 20 percent between 1990 and 2000, from 58,000 to 71,000 residents, U.S. Census figures show.Matthew Daus, the chairman of the city Taxi and Limousine Commission, said his agency was cracking down on for-hire vehicle bases and livery cars that pick up passengers on the street."Instead of calling for service," the drivers park on nearby streets, he said. "We want to put an end to that."Maura McCarthy, the Queens borough commissioner for the city Department of Transportation, said there were two traffic studies being initiated in the area later this year.One is for Jackson Heights bounded by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on the west, 82nd Street on the east, 35th Avenue on the north and 41st Avenue on the south.The other is for Northern Boulevard between 48th Street and Junction Boulevard.In addition the city DOT is completing a long-awaited truck study, which should be released in the next six weeks.In response to a question as to why the bus depot at the 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue was still using mostly diesel vehicles, Sears said more than 300 buses were on order, but it would take about 1 1/2 years to get the new vehicles. Capt. Timothy Kelly, the executive officer of the 115th Precinct, which covers Jackson Heights, said police were responding to quality of life complaints with tens of thousands of tickets each year.The precinct wrote 52,000 summons in 2006, up 7,000 from the year before, he said. One resident suggested cell phones could be used as evidence of traffic infractions, but McCarthy said police needed to witness the infractions.McCarthy added they were fighting individuals parking out-of-state vehicles that are for sale on Junction Boulevard and 34th Avenue. He would not elaborate on the plan to halt the practice, calling it a "secret operation."Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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