Residents Voice Frustrations with Select Bus Project

Residents Voice Frustrations with Select Bus Project

Many members of communities that would be impacted by the proposed Select Bus Service project along the Woodhaven Boulevard-Cross Bay Boulevard corridor passionately voiced their concerns about the plan on Tuesday at the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic meeting.

Representatives from the city Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Transportation Authority delivered an updated presentation on the $200 million project, which is based on the existing Q52/53 Limited bus route that currently carries 30,000 daily riders over 14 miles from the Rockaways to Woodside.

There are eight Select Bus Service routes along seven corridors in the city. The Woodhaven-Cross Bay SBS, the administration has said, would be “the most intensive and most beneficial SBS route to be implemented.”

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.”

Civic President Joann Ariola said that she still doesn’t understand why the SBS route needs to be implemented in the area.

“Why are we making much ado about nothing?” she said following the presentation. “You haven’t convinced me how it benefits us.”

DOT Senior Project Manager Taylor Gouge said, “It’s about balancing all needs to make it better for all the users of the corridor.”

Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards are both identified as Priority Corridors in the DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Action Plans, with 24 fatalities since 2008 on the length of the SBS route.

“Aligning with Vision Zero, this design will have new medians for pedestrian refuge and a greener streetscape,” an agency spokesperson said in March. “There will be a physical separation of local and thru traffic, allowing thru traffic to travel free from parking and turning conflicts and local traffic to travel through calmer service roads.”

Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton expressed concern about the proposed elimination of left turns at Rockaway Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue. Gouge said that initially the project called for eliminating left turns at certain corridor intersections, including at Rockaway Boulevard “because of the elevated train and visibility issues with that.” However, after receiving feedback from stakeholders at the SBS public workshops, Gouge said plans have changed, and the proposal now reflects a restored southbound left turn at Rockaway Boulevard.

However Gouge went on to say that the Jamaica Avenue intersection is especially challenging when it comes to left turns.

“One thing we’re looking at is signalized U-turns one block south of Jamaica Avenue,” she noted. “I know they’re really sensitive and we want to keep working with the community on this issue.”

Longtime Howard Beach resident Scott Bush said removing any amount of traffic lanes to accommodate the buses will result in an even larger volume problem.

“You can’t take away two traffic lanes on Cross Bay and replace them with bus lanes when 10 hours a day you have wall-to-wall cars,” he said.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) called on residents to keep raising their voices.

“I’ve been telling every constituent: We can’t accept this,” he said. “After lines are painted, we live with what’s built here.”

By Michael V. Cusenza


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