Today’s news:

DOT to take Jamaica buildings for road rehab

The city will be using eminent domain to acquire several buildings near two projects in Jamaica following a hearing last week, city planners said.

The city Department of Transportation is in the process of acquiring seven properties near Archer Avenue between 144th and 147th places, where the city Economic Development Corp. will have its Station Plaza project, and two properties near Atlantic Avenue near the Van Wyck Expressway, where the city plans to extend the road, according to representatives for both agencies.

The acquisition proposals were announced during a public hearing held in Jamaica Aug. 17. An EDC representative laid out the agency’s plans for all of the properties in an e-mailed statement.

“The purpose of this acquisition is to take property in order to widen and re-align Archer Avenue between 144th Place and 147th Place, to establish Public Places between 144th Place and 147th Place, and to adjust grades necessitated thereby in the Jamaica Station area in Downtown Jamaica,” the agency said of the Station Plaza project.

No properties were taken by the city as of press time Tuesday.

The initiatives are part of three ongoing projects and are aimed at bringing new amenities and public spaces to downtown Jamaica, which was rezoned by the city nearly three years ago to bring in more commercial business.

The EDC is currently working on construction on the Sutphin Underpass, which will bring a small shopping center to the area near the AirTrain and Long Island Rail Road stations in Jamaica. It is expected to be completed by spring 2011.

The Station Plaza project is still in the pre-construction phase, but administrators said it will improve safety for the pedestrians and motorists who use the streets for their commutes. Entrances to the Archer Avenue subway stations will be rearranged and the street will be expanded to accommodate for bus traffic, according to the EDC.

“The project would result in additional traffic lanes, wider sidewalks, improved bus stops, new medians and publicly accessible open space. Widening Archer Avenue would provide an additional travel lane for a total of four through lanes and a dedicated left-turn lane, improving bus operations and overall traffic conditions,” the agency said.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said the road upgrades were necessary.

“The sidewalks there are very minimal. If you go there on a rainy day, you’ll see big puddles and you’ll get splashed on,” he said.

In addition to the transportation upgrades, new greenery and other beautification amenities will be added, according to the EDC.

The Atlantic Avenue project is also being done to improve safety.

The avenue will be extended one block east to the Van Wyck Expressway service road and connect it with 95th Avenue to create a new gateway into downtown Jamaica.

“The project will provide more attractive, efficient access to the Jamaica Station/Air Train terminal by decreasing traffic congestion to and from the Van Wyck Expressway,” EDC said.

The project will also include a beautification element that includes a welcome sign for visitors and a new park, according to the agency.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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