PHOTO: State Sen. Addabbo discussed the Select Bus Service plan with The Forum in Howard Beach on Tuesday. Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza
With the Resorts World NYC casino bus crash about 24 hours in the rear-view mirror, but its jarring images still fresh on the borough’s mind, several elected officials, including state Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), joined city Department of Transportation representatives on Tuesday on a tour of the proposed Select Bus Service route along the Woodhaven Boulevard-Cross Bay Boulevard corridor.
Scheduled back in June, the excursion had no connection to Monday afternoon’s accident.
The fruit of a meeting between Addabbo, Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, the tour was aimed at familiarizing pols with the implementation of the design concept on the ground, and allowed them to voice concerns regarding the $200 million plan and how it might affect their respective constituents.
Addabbo, the only elected official whose 15th Senatorial District includes the entire 14-mile route, said the outing began in Howard Beach, on Cross Bay Boulevard and 163rd Avenue, and trekked northbound, terminating on Woodhaven Boulevard just north of Metropolitan Avenue. Along the way, Addabbo reported, the bus made stops at intersections at which the plan calls for “major changes”—Pitkin Avenue, Liberty Avenue, Jamaica Avenue, Union Turnpike and Metropolitan Avenue.
In March, DOT announced that Design Concept 2—a “transit-oriented boulevard” in which buses travel in designated lanes in the main roadway—had been selected out of the three that the agency and the MTA had developed.
According to DOT, Concept 2 “provides faster and more reliable bus service, allowing buses to travel free from turning or parking conflicts, with an anticipated travel time savings of 25 to 35 percent. Median transit stations with shelters, seating, and real-time bus information will be constructed, giving passengers high-quality waiting areas.”
However, as Addabbo related to The Forum on Tuesday, at certain points, the plan calls for the removal of one lane of through traffic in each direction.
“I can’t accept that,” Addabbo said. “Keep three lanes consistent and use the service road.”
From the outset, Jamaica Avenue has been one of the more hotly contested junctions of the plan, with the controversy mainly surrounding the “no left-hand turns from Woodhaven Boulevard onto the avenue” design element. DOT, which has called the Jamaica Avenue intersection “especially challenging,” has indicated that it is looking into “signalized U-turns” one block south of Jamaica Avenue as an alternative.
Addabbo noted that the commercial strip was one of the focal points of the tour on Tuesday.
“I can’t picture cars, let alone trucks, making a four-lane U-turn there,” he said.
Addabbo said that the immediate next step in the process is all of the elected officials will collaborate on a single letter which outlines all of their grievances with the project and will be sent to Trottenberg some day next week.
“We need to improve bus efficiency, especially in Rockaway; we need to improve the corridor,” Addabbo acknowledged. “But we need to be mindful of bus riders, car drivers, pedestrians, business owners, and the outlying communities. Before we have a long-term solution, let’s get it right.”
Addabbo also said that the success of the eight current SBS routes has no bearing on this one.
“With all due respect, I don’t care if it works somewhere else,” he noted. “I need it to work here.”
By Michael V. Cusenza