Traffic is backing up in Maspeth and members of the Juniper Park Civic Association are up in arms, accusing the city of poor judgment in permanently closing off part of a traffic triangle before starting a plan to divert commercial trucks from the area.
“We definitely are in favor of the reconfiguration of this intersection, but the bypass plan should have been put in place first,” said civic President Robert Holden in a statement. “By not planning properly, DOT is turning what was a traffic headache into a nightmare.”
The city Department of Transportation recently closed Grand Avenue between Flushing Avenue and 64th Street to create a safer environment for children walking to and from St. Stanislaus Kostka Elementary School on Grand Avenue at 61st Street.
Christina Wilkinson, the civic’s secretary, said trucks trying to navigate the S−turn created by closing off Grand Avenue through the triangle have destroyed two Maspeth Chamber of Commerce signs and scraped the trunks of several trees on the sidewalk.
“It’s kind of ironic that this traffic−calming solution is actually putting people in danger,” she said.
In a letter responding to the civic’s complaint, Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy said the agency received many calls about traffic congestion at the end of October.
“I visited the site personally on Friday, Oct. 24, at 2:30 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m.,” she wrote. “There was no traffic congestion on Grand Avenue at that time.”
Other staff also visited the site at different rush−hour times Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 without spotting any congestion, she said.
The truck bypass plan long advocated by the civic and Community Board 5 calls for trucks to exit the Long Island Expressway at Maurice Avenue and proceed to 58th Street in West Maspeth instead of Grand Avenue.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@tim
©2008 Community News Group
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