Woodhaven Boulevard proves to be a cause for concern among Queens residents, with its high volume of traffic and above average accident rates. Over the past five years, the city Department of Transportation has researched and implemented methods to decongest the boulevard.
The study revealed that there were more than 400 accidents between 2004 and 2006, along with average speeds as low as 12.9 miles per hour during peak hours in the 3.2 mile stretch that spans from Queens Boulevard south to Rockaway Boulevard.
Some locations have already benefited from improvements made between November 2011 and April 2012 during the Woodhaven Boulevard Congested Corridor project. Now the project has regained attention from the DOT with last Wednesday’s public meeting, during which officials gave an update on the project.
I think that these things take a very long time,” said Community Board 9 member Andrea Crawford, who sits on the board’s transportation committee. “We are just happy it is finally being studied, looking towards some solutions.”
Community Board 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio stressed the importance of addressing traffic along Woodhaven Boulevard.
“It definitely needs attention – the service road, the bus routes, the bike lanes,” he said. “It’s a major project, and if affects people from Rockaways to Rego Park.”
Vinny Arcuri, chairman of Community Board 5, attended Wednesday’s meeting and noted that members of the DOT “were very responsive to what we have suggested.”
He continued to say that there are still a few problems that need to be addressed, including looking at where the service road and main road come together at the northbound Park Lane South.
Although the boulevard runs through four different districts, members from each area have similar concerns about the flow of traffic throughout the boulevard.
“We are concerned about the whole boulevard,” Arcuri said. “It is the secondary road to the Van Wyke Expressway. It is at capacity already.”
Jim Coccovillo, chairman of Community Board 9, stressed that, “it is a really big project that has ben going on for years.”
“It is a tough situation…it is not like there is room for the road to be widened,” Coccovillo continued.
Gulluscio said the length of the project has been “a disgrace…I thought this would be attended to in a timely manner.”
Among a variety of wishes residents have for Woodhaven Boulevard, one proposal that carries much weight amongst civic leaders, and legislators, is bringing select bus service to the boulevard. The service would change the way bus passengers pay for their fare – they would use MetroCards at curbside kiosks to pay for their bus trip, instead of paying on the bus. MTA officials and residents have said this could significantly cut down on travel time, as well as traffic along the roadway.
“I think that select bus service on Woodhaven Boulevard would be fantastic,” Crawford said. “The whole idea is that we need to move people better on Woodhaven Boulevard.”
Coccovillo said “better signage to keep the traffic flowing in the two lanes,” would help.
“The problem is the left hand lanes are being slowed down by these turns,” he said.
The presentation highlighted some of the improvements that have already been implemented. It shows that at the Union Turnpike intersections, with the implementation of a must turn right lane in one direction and a service lane that changed from one to two roads, total crashes decreased by 29 percent.
A final design will be prepared and brought to the community boards for implementation in 2014.
To see the presentation given by the DOT at the meeting, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/woodhavenblvd.shtml.
By Kerry Goleski