Major traffic bypass approved in Maspeth

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Community Board 5 voted to approve the Maspeth bypass plan Wednesday night, after several months of amendments and roughly a decade of waiting for a solution.

“I feel the work is just beginning,” said Stacey Hodge of the city Department of Transportation after the vote. “This was a very complicated project.”

The plan would reroute tractor trailers coming off the Long Island Expressway around the residential portions of Maspeth, specifically the often-clogged Grand and Flushing avenues that run along the neighborhood’s commercial district.

A major component of the plan was to convert Maurice Avenue and 58th Street to one-ways, and more stringently control traffic in the five-lane intersection where the two roads converge with Maspeth Avenue and 56th Terrace.

The DOT will begin work in September but the decision did not sit well with local businesses like Junior’s Cheesecake Inc.

Aurthur Goldstein, a lawyer representing the landlord of the dessert manufacturer, said that the plan renders his client’s business impotent.

“This becomes a question of functioning versus non-functioning,” he said. But Goldstein would not comment on his remarks from the June meeting when he said, “If you vote up, you are forcing them to move to Jersey… New York City and Queens can’t afford to lose another business.”

Chris Hwang, an employee of Super Plumbing and Building Supply, at 58-77 Maurice Ave., was more candid.

“My boss told me the owner plans to move,” he said. “As long as it’s not in [the board]’s front yard, they don’t care.”

The plan enjoyed support from lawmakers like state Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Maspeth) and City Councilman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).

A portion of the plan was approved by Community Board 2 at their June meeting, but the plan went through several revisions in CB 5 after a backlash from the business community.

The board voted the proposal down three months in a row, but was finally swayed when DOT agreed to monitor the area for adverse effects for six months after the plan is put in place.

“If something doesn’t work, we’re not afraid to come back to you and undo it,” said David Woloch, deputy commissioner of external affairs for DOT.

The plan will direct trucks to exit the LIE at Maurice Avenue instead of Grand Avenue. The tractor trailers can then take Maurice Avenue south and then continue on to Page Place to get through the neighborhood.

Northbound traffic can use 58th Street.

The plans will take roughly 676 trucks off of Grand and Flushing avenues daily, and 207 trucks at peak hours.

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

Updated 11:30 am, October 12, 2011
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