PHOTO: The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association thanked the 102nd Precinct for helping Saturday’s rally go smoothly. Courtesy of the WRBA
By Michael V. Cusenza
Hundreds of south Queens civic leaders, concerned residents, and business owners gathered in Woodhaven last Saturday to voice their opposition to the City’s Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevards Select Bus Service project.
Organized by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, Woodhaven Business Improvement District, and the Queens Public Transit Committee, the rally called more attention to the massive, transformative plan that, according to the Department of Transportation, aims “to implement Select Bus Service improvements that make existing bus service substantially faster and more reliable, while maintaining needed traffic flow and parking, and also making the corridor safer for all users. A combination of bus lanes, signal optimization, and transit signal priority can reduce bus travel times and greatly reduce the variability that congestion imposes on bus service. These measures will also improve schedule reliability and thereby improving overall transit quality.”
The groups that led last weekend’s rally disagreed.
“The de Blasio administration is planning dramatic changes that will ruin Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards,” they wrote on a flyer promoting the event.
The proposed SBS path is based on the existing Q52/53 bus route – a vital north/south thoroughfare carrying over 30,000 daily bus riders in the World’s Borough, along with heavy traffic volumes.
“South Queens is in danger of cardiac arrest because its main artery is clogged,” said Mike Scala, first vice president of the Queens Public Transit Committee.
“The corridor is served by several local, limited, and express bus routes,” the DOT has said. “Many travelers use these routes to connect to intersecting subway services in addition to going directly to businesses and schools along the corridor; however, the bus service is not as effective as it could be, as buses can be caught in congestion and the layout of the street makes bus stops difficult to reach for neighborhood residents.”
However, SBS project concerns include the removal of a lane of traffic on both sides of the boulevards, banning left-hand turns at certain intersections, and the addition of bus stops to medians.
“We want the de Blasio administration to know how unwanted the SBS plan is,” said Alex Blenkinsopp in the days leading up to the rally. “We want to educate the many people who are unaware of this plan and allow them to register their opposition. And ultimately, we want DOT and MTA to wake up and scrap this proposal, replacing it with something that actually accounts for the community’s concerns and needs.”