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Nunziato disrupts Markey presser on truck traffic

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A news conference held by elected officials Monday announcing a city Department of Transportation plan to reroute trucks in Maspeth erupted when state Assembly candidate Tony Nunziato and members of the Juniper Park Civic Association crashed the event.

Holding up signs and yelling, about 20 members of the association said the officials have done too little, too late to fight against truck traffic.

“Joe Crowley did nothing. Marge Markey did nothing,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park civic.

The conference, held primarily by U.S. Rep. Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), Assemblywoman Markey (D-Maspeth), and City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), was intended to announce the DOT planned to redesignate Flushing and Grand avenues as “Local Truck Routes,” which will go into effect in 2 1/2 to three months.

The avenues are currently designated as “Through Truck Routes,” meaning that while trucks from Queens going to local stops or to Brooklyn would be able to use these side streets, trucks that originated in Staten Island, the Bronx or further away that are using the avenues as a through route to Brooklyn would not and would have to use the Long Island Expressway or Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to get to Brooklyn.

“We all have a serious interest in this topic,” Markey said.

At the same time, the officials also announced that the first phase of the “Maspeth Bypass and Intersection Normalization Study,” intended to examine traffic flow in Maspeth, is complete. Mike Armstrong, spokesman for Markey, said analysis on the current traffic is finished.

Phase two, which will not be done until the end of the year, will develop plans to improve the intersection at 58th Street and Maurice and Maspeth avenues. Armstrong said this study was funded by monies secured by Crowley and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills), who could not attend the conference.

“This plan is the first step in the long term,” Markey said.

Nunziato said he and late community activist Frank Principe developed the Maspeth Bypass Plan 10 years ago and accused Markey of not doing anything about truck traffic.

“We have to get everything done by ourselves,” Nunziato said.

Holden said the plan should have been implemented years ago and that Markey only cared about this now because it was an election year.

“We’re not pushing parties,” Holden said. “We’re not political.”

Nunziato is running as the Republican candidate for Markey’s seat.

Armstrong said the plan had been taking too long, but that was not the fault of Markey. He said Community Board 5 presented the plan to the department, but the city wanted to do a boroughwide study of all truck routes before it agreed to work on the problems. Rep. Crowley and Weiner paid for the study, which is the first part of a boroughwide study.

“That’s why they didn’t get around to responding to all this frustration and uproar,” Armstrong said.

He also said Markey held the conference because a similar conference was held in May to announce the study, not for political reasons. He said the association should be happy something is getting done.

“There’s an inconsistency in the logic,” he said. “And they don’t like Marge Markey because their friend is running against her.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 6:31 pm, October 10, 2011
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