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Maspeth biz slam DOT on bypass

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One of the city Department of Transporta­tion’s best outreach coordinators is also its most vocal critic.

The DOT held a public open house in Maspeth last Thursday to discuss the department’s plan for a truck bypass route around the neighborhood.

But according to business owner Nick Diamantis, he had to do a lot of the reaching out himself.

“Honestly, if I didn’t go out and hand out the fliers myself, then a lot of businesses would not have known,” said Diamantis, owner of the Clinton Diner on 57th Place, as he pointed out at least six businesses in the area that he visited.

Diamantis and other business owners have grumbled that the DOT has not done enough outreach to the business community about the bypass plan.

The open house was convened after Community Board 5 decided to table its vote on the bypass plan until more businesses had a chance to weigh in on it.

Diamantis and other business owners agreed there is a need for the bypass plan, but the DOT’s version, which is rife with one-way conversions, would be detrimental to their operations.

“I agree that trucks should be off the road — and I want those trucks to come this way,” Diamantis said. “But the one-ways are a disaster.”

Representatives from the department were on hand to explain some of the diagrams to residents and business owners and take their comments into considerations for future versions of the plan.

“We are trying to balance the safety improvements with the needs of the local businesses,” said Tom Maguire of the DOT, who attended the open house. “We’re trying to look at this framework and get as many trucks as possible out of Maspeth.”

This is the nearly 10th outreach briefing the DOT has done since the beginning of the year, which is why some CB 5 board members think delaying the vote was a bad idea.

Vincent Arcuri, chairman of the board, said the department had done its due diligence at a meeting earlier this month.

But the plan was news to Chris Hwang of Super Plumbing and Building Supply, who said the one-way conversions would make it too hard for his trucks to make deliveries and for his customers to park at the businesses.

“I might as well move the business,” he said at the open house.

Other business owners aired similar problems with the plan, but there was also no shortage of solutions.

The focal point of the entire plan is a five-way intersection between Maspeth and Maurice avenues and 58th street. Business owners said the DOT’s plan to convert many of the surrounding streets to one-way was the main problem.

Diamantis wanted the DOT to simply install stop signs at all five entrances to the intersection.

“In 25 years here, I’ve only seen one accident,” he said of the existing intersection, which relies on three stop signs and a lot of common courtesy to allow safe passage of cars.

Ray Zajkowski lives in the area and suggested that the trucks be routed farther down the Long Island Expressway service road and then south down 48th Street.

Tony Xu wanted a stop sign and U-turn lane to make the intersection more accessible to pedestrians.

But Maguire said the installation of a stop light could take up to eight years.

The DOT will take the suggestions from the two meetings to incorporate into yet another plan.

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

Updated 10:52 am, October 12, 2011
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