It’s not that residents do not want to see change or improvements to the boulevard – they most certainly do. But a large and growing number of locals are seeing the details of the daft and dangerous proposal for the first time and expressing concern.
Woodhaven Boulevard is like a giant river that bisects our community. Many of us have to either travel on it or cross it several times a day. We are familiar with its patterns and flows.
I’ve lived within a block or two of Woodhaven Boulevard for over 50 years, and I can usually tell you when there’s a problem on it without even seeing it.
For example, last week a truck hit one of the supports of the elevated train and the MTA had to close a portion of the boulevard while they performed a safety inspection.
The people of 91st Street didn’t need to be told that something was up, they could tell by the heavy traffic pouring down our normally safe and placid street.
The current proposal by DOT will encourage drivers looking to avoid increased traffic to take side streets, turning our quiet residential blocks into honking, congested messes.
The real daft part of this scheme is to eliminate several local bus stops, making them essentially express buses, screwing the elderly and the handicapped.
For example, you’ll be able to catch a bus at Jamaica Avenue or Myrtle Avenue, but if you live in between, say along Park Lane South, too bad, you need to hoof it.
And here’s the dangerous part: when you do finally get to your bus stop, you’ll find it has been relocated to the middle of Woodhaven Boulevard in the midst of all the heavy traffic.
Currently, when waiting for a bus on either side of the boulevard, you’ll typically see riders with their backs against the wall, well away from the traffic. Under this new scheme, riders will have lanes of traffic both in front and behind them as they stand unprotected.
And come winter, when then plows clear the roads of snow, these riders will have a nightmare navigating the icy mountains they leave behind to reach the waiting platforms or to get on a bus.
Supporters of this wacky plan promise that none of this will happen. Supporters say that DOT will make sure the bus platforms are safe and properly maintained.
It’s fair to wonder what some of these supporters are smoking!
Oh DOT, why do we distrust thee? Let us count the ways:
• You left women jogging through Forest Park in the dark for several months during a rape spree due to your refusal to admit the lights were broken.
• You tried to cut off a vital entrance to our community at 84th Street and showed up at a public meeting with maps showing streets going in the wrong direction.
• You have dragged your heels installing speed humps on 98th Street, even though they were approved years ago.
• You have painted traffic lines in, over and around deep potholes instead of fixing them.
• You have refused parking accommodations to a Woodhaven school with special needs children for some odd and bizarre reasons, and told the bus drivers to just park at a hydrant.
DOT has proven themselves time and again to be utterly incompetent here in Woodhaven. When you hear residents talk about “saving our boulevard” they are not saying they want to preserve the status quo.
They are saying that our level of trust in DOT’s ability to work on our boulevard without completely making it worse is at an all-time low.
There are some common sense and cost-effective alternatives to the plan they currently propose, whose cost estimate is a few hundred million dollars to start. Introducing graded crossings over the railroad so buses can bypass traffic on the bridge between Union and Metropolitan is just one of those ideas that DOT has willfully ignored.
Strict enforcement of existing traffic laws, especially speeding automobiles, is something else residents would like to see.
Come out to Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue at noon on Saturday to hear more about these alternatives and to tell DOT we demand competence and smart improvements to make our boulevard safer and better for everyone.