Photo Courtesy of the Mayor’s Office
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the City would begin construction on Vision Zero projects like Woodhaven-Cross Bay Corridor Select Bus Service.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that with the arrival of spring and warmer weather, the City is beginning work on dozens of Vision Zero street redesign and construction safety projects, including Woodhaven-Cross Bay Corridor Select Bus Service, as part of a $1.6 billion, safety initiative—and some outspoken residents of communities that would be directly impacted by SBS are not happy.
“We’ll be living with this mayor’s mistakes long after he is out of office,” Woodhaven activist Ed Wendell told The Forum.
According to de Blasio, New Yorkers will soon see new crosswalks, wider sidewalks, pedestrian refuge medians and new protected bicycle lanes in every borough.
“Dangerous streets have to change,” the mayor said. “We want to get the word out: we’re moving lanes, adding new space for pedestrians and making it safer to cross intersections—all to keep your family safe. These changes have helped make each of the last three years under Vision Zero safer than the last.”
Police Commissioner Jim O’Neill added, “As we start 2017, the City continues to experience decreases in both crime and traffic fatalities. We welcome the early signs of success, yet we remain focused on both.”
Highlights of this year’s Queens safety projects (with anticipated season when construction is expected to begin) include:
Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, multiple neighborhoods: addition of Select Bus Service for Q52 and Q53 routes; numerous pedestrian and corridor safety improvements (Spring)
Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica: major Vision Zero pedestrian and school safety project with new pedestrian islands (Spring)
23rd Ave and Corporal Kennedy Blvd, Bay Terrace: complex intersection redesign that will create simpler, safer pedestrian crossings and clearer vehicle traffic patterns. (Spring)
“We will continue to oppose Select Bus Service on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards,” Queens Public Transit Committee First Vice President Mike Scala told The Forum in an email. “Community Boards 9 and 14 voted against the plan because it would remove local stops, lanes of traffic and left turns, as well as create safety issues by forcing bus riders into the median. To make matters worse, the lack of New Starts funding in the proposed federal budget could result in the total waste of an incomplete project. Mayor de Blasio campaigned on the promise of paying attention to our needs in the so-called outer boroughs. Now is a great time for him to remember that and stop trying to force something we don’t want down our throats.”
As for support from Washington, De Blasio warned that “steady progress” under Vision Zero would be undercut by cuts in transportation programs in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget announced earlier this month. The mayor noted that since 2014 the City Department of Transportation has committed $98.8 million in federal funds for over 30 Vision Zero capital projects. The agency’s four-year capital plan (FY17-20) includes over $200 million in federal funding for dozens of additional projects, including SBS. De Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg have pledged a bipartisan effort with other major cities to push back on Trump’s proposed cuts.