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CB 8 discusses 191st Street’s dual directions

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A street in Jamaica Estates is having an identity crisis.

A stretch of 191st Street between Hillside and Palo Alto avenues is now a one-way, northbound street, but it might not stay that way.

The city Department of Transportation recently installed signs designating the one-way direction, but a local community board originally wanted the street to run south and reserved the right to switch the department’s designation if the community did not like it.

“The department said that it seemed more traffic was going the other way and that northbound would be best,” said Marie Adam-Ovide, managing director of Community Board 8.

The decision was based on a department study, according to a spokeswoman, and after looking at the data, transportation officials determined that the northbound designation would improve both mobility and safety in the area.

In early 2009, the community board asked the DOT to make the stretch of 191st Street one-way heading south due to excessive speeding.

“There were a lot of problems with traffic,” said Adam-Ovide. “There was a lot of speeding.”

The problem stemmed from nearby, busy thoroughfare 188th Street, according to Adam-Ovide.

When the larger road became packed with traffic, impatient motorists turned off and zoomed through the neighborhood along 191st Street, which was dangerous for neighborhood children, she added.

“A lot of the roads are very curvy and people can’t see when they are driving fast,” Adam-Ovide said.

After the study was completed in June 2010 and the northbound decision came down, the board agreed to give it a try. But the CB 8 Transportation Committee chairman did not want the decision to become permanent and so he struck a deal.

“If we found it didn’t work, that they would consider reversing the direction,” said Jesse Rosenbaum.

And two weeks into the test run, the road drew praise from residents along 191st Street but condemnation from residents who live nearby.

“The feedback has been mostly positive from the people who live along the street,” said Rosenbaum.

But other residents have been complaining that they have to go around the block to get to their houses, according to Adam-Ovide.

“A lot of people are upset because they have to go out of their way or around the block to get to their homes,” she said.

She added that people have only complained because of the inconvenience — not because the new road was unsafe.

“We all want convenience, but I would feel terrible if we changed it for convenience and then something happened and someone got killed,” she said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 6:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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