Borough officials put the brakes on a city proposal this week that would have rerouted buses through residential areas of Bay Terrace.
To the community’s dismay, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority redrew the routes for the Q13 and Q16 between Fort Totten and Flushing to accommodate ongoing construction at Little Bay Park. The temporary year-long lines would have had buses chugging by back streets and elementary schools, and nearby residents said they were not along for the ride.
Their voices were ultimately heard after community leaders and elected officials sat down with the MTA to make sure the maps were not redrawn.
“I was proud to work with community leaders and agency representatives to find a solution,” said state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), who helped negotiate with the MTA. “It was gratifying to work together in an extremely short time frame to develop an alternative option.”
Braunstein battled the agency to keep Fort Totten as a turn-around point despite the construction so that routes would not need to be changed.
Warren Schreiber, who heads the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, said the proposed rerouting posed a new risk to residents because it had buses passing by Bell Academy and PS 169 on 212th Street, where children are already abundant. With so much foot traffic in that area, Schreiber said he was glad to see the MTA work to keep any extra buses from that part of Bay Terrace.
“This agreement proves that when people make a good faith effort to find solutions to difficult problems, exceptional things can happen,” Schreiber said. “It’s a win-win situation for the entire community.”
The city broke ground on a new Little Bay Park comfort station earlier this year after years of anticipation, leading to a semi-lock down of the area parking lot. The $5 million project was slated for a fall 2014 finish and should also include an expanded 100-car parking lot, Parks said.
Because of the construction, the MTA argued that bus routes passing through the region could not use Fort Totten as a turn-around point and needed to be temporarily rerouted. But after sitting down with elected officials, the agency decided it would instead have buses drive a little further into Fort Totten and use a different lot there to turn around, eliminating the need for any redrawn routes or new stops.
The new solution should add about a minute to the overall route because of the new turn-around point deeper into Fort Totten.
The decision avoids any confusion that would have come up from the MTA’s original proposal, which would have eliminated six stops from the Q13 and Q16 routes and establish temporary new ones in parts of Bay Terrace.
“The long-awaited construction at Little Bay Park will cause some necessary disruptions,” said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who helped mediate the negotiation process. “Yet we cannot let the surrounding community bear the brunt of these disruptions. That is why this re-route is the right thing to do.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community News Group
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