Thursday, April 01, 2010


The city traffic officials seem to be tripping over themselves-if not just trippin'-when it comes to developing rational traffic plans in Queens. The NY Daily News has the latest snafu: "The city' third-busiest pedestrian hub is getting a traffic makeover, but its new look isn't exactly what locals were expecting. The city Department of Transportation has shelved a three-year-old plan that would have made Main and Union Sts. in downtown Flushing one-way to improve traffic flow and make streets more pedestrian friendly."

Whoops! So after planning for one way for lo these many years, DOT has an Emily Latella moment-"Never mind!" But, aside from all of the confusion inherent in the 180, someone needs to alert CB #7-that is if they actually cared-that the EIS for Flushing Commons is predicated on Main Street being one way.

All of which led to our new transportation commissioner to become a bit red faced: "It's a little embarrassing for me that we went for two years selling you a one-way plan," McCarthy, who has been touting the plan since 2008, said of the unexpected about-face. "But I think people are going to like this one."

As well she should since the locals have been awaiting the one way plan and now feel bamboozled: "But some local leaders were a bit miffed by the switcheroo. "Everybody loved the one-way plan, and hundreds of thousands of dollars went into it," said Chuck Apelian, vice chairman of Community Board 7. "Now they're just going to modify a couple of intersections."

And Mr. Apelian saw the revised plan as being contradictory to the traffic flow from the Flushing Commons project: "Apelian said the two-way plan will not serve the long-term traffic problems created by the Flushing Commons development, to be built atop a municipal parking lot on Union St. "Just implement the one-way plan," he said. "This one is counter-productive to us trying to develop downtown Flushing."

The local Flushing BID is equally mystified: "I can't argue with science, but I don't see how this plan can work," said Jim Gerson, chairman of the Flushing Business Improvement District. "It pales in comparison to the one-way plan."

But DOT doesn't need to get any one's sign off on the revised traffic flow-and as far as Gerson's feeling that he can't argue with, "science," well, DOT is to science as metallurgy is to alchemy. But the furor over Flushing is just a microcosm of the fact that DOT is simply over its head with trying to mitigate all of the development that EDC has earmarked for Queens. And there is a definite need for a comprehensive plan for the borough that doesn't try to segment all of the various projects in order to minimize the overall impacts.

So, in essence, our fight over the Willets Point ramps can't be seen in isolation from all of the contiguous development that is either built or being planned. EDC, however, has a trained incapacity to deal with all of these impacts with anything approaching integrity-and all of the Queens civic groups need to band together if they are going to avoid a radical assault on their communities' quality of life.