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DOT studies congestion problems on Woodhaven

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Any driver, pedestrian or bus passenger who has been stuck in traffic on Woodhaven Boulevard at rush hour can attest to its being one of Queens' most congested roadways, which is why the city Department of Transportation is studying what can be done to improve things.

DOT and Urbitran, an engineering firm the city has contracted to examine traffic and transportation design on the boulevard, held a public meeting Monday at the Forest Hills library to gather suggestions from the people who live and travel on the Woodhaven corridor. The study is funded by the Federal Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality program and by Borough President Helen Marshall's office.

"We will be studying the corridor from Queens Boulevard to Liberty Avenue. We want to know what you think," DOT Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy said.

DOT showed a PowerPoint presentation — available at www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/woodhavenblvd.shtml — outlining the study goals, the intersections involved, public transportation, traffic and pedestrian safety and community outreach efforts. The audience then split into groups to discuss their concerns, which were discussed at the end of the meeting.

One that all groups mentioned is that drivers use Woodhaven Boulevard as an alternate north-south route from the Rockaways and Belt Parkway to the Long Island Expressway.

"Crossbay [Boulevard] and Woodhaven [Boulevard] have become a de facto alternate route to the Van Wyck Expressway," said Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton, which contributes to traffic congestion through her district, covering Ozone Park and Howard Beach.

The road design and usage creates bottlenecks at shopping areas, bus stops and the LIE, some said.

"Delivery trucks double-park in front of stores and block traffic, and then buses can't reach the stops and block another lane," said Mike Mulvaney, who is on the Transportation Committee of Community Board 6, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park.

Participants also said rail lines and the Jackie Robinson Parkway carve up the area in a way that limits north-south mobility. They noted that there is "park and ride" activity at Queens and Rockaway boulevards, where there are subway and bus stops. And participants said that inconsistencies in the number of lanes or presence of service roads create backups.

DOT and Urbitran plan to do a walk/drive of the Woodhaven Boulevard corridor in mid-June to look at these concerns. They are to continue meeting with the public and community groups until the study is completed in May 2009.

Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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