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Local News March 7, 2013  RSS feed

CAN’T GET TO WORK EASILY

Maspeth Companies Seek More Bus Service
by Robert Pozarycki

Businesses in the Maspeth industrial area are asking the MTA to consider improving public transportation options to help ease the daily commute of their workers, members of Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit Committees learned during their meeting last Tuesday night, Feb. 26, at the board’s Glendale office.

Jean Tanler of the Maspeth Industrial Business Association told the panel that the group and several proprietors in the area recently met with a contingent of officials with the MTA and the city Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding mass transportation in areas of western

Maspeth.

More than 25,000 people work in the area every day, but many of them are “having difficulty getting to work” since there is little bus service available, she claimed.

“We had some recommendations for them,” she said. “It was very preliminary, but just based on the feedback we received. Some of them had expressed interest in more frequency of service, perhaps having a bus line on Rust Street.”

Currently, just one bus line—the Q39—travels through the industrial zone of Maspeth. Running between Ridgewood and Long Island City, the bus route travels along Rust Street, Maurice Avenue, 55th Drive and 58th Street. One suggestion offered was having some existing bus lines which connect to subway lines in Brooklyn and other parts of Queens altered to run through Maspeth.

With public transit options so limited, Tanler noted, some businesses have established their own shuttle services to transport their workers to and from stations on the 7 line in Sunnyside and Woodside. Having the MTA operate a business shuttle between Maspeth and the 7 line was one suggestion raised by a local business owner, she added.

“The MTA and DOT seemed open and looking to work with us on workable solutions,” she said.

Asked by Public Transit Committee Co-Chair John Maier if the representatives of the MTA or DOT favored any of the suggestions offered, Tanler replied that “they didn’t have a lot of confidence that they would be able to provide additional routes or service.” When business shuttle service was mentioned, she noted, the MTA hinted that there were “financing options” available to businesses which operated such a program for their employees.

“Our concern is they’re going to focus too much on that rather than increasing service in the area,” Tanler concluded.

The business representative noted that business leaders had requested that the Grand Street Bridge reconstruction be made a priority. The project is currently set to begin in the 2020 fiscal year.

Bus changes

Regarding other bus matters, Maier reported the MTA Bus Company is planning to reroute the QM12 weekday express bus through Glendale and Rego Park.

Currently, the QM12 line makes morning stops and terminates on evenings on Metropolitan Avenue at Woodhaven Boulevard. The MTA Bus Company plans to relocate that stop to Trotting Course Lane at Alderson Street, in front of Remsen Cemetery Park, as soon as April.

The move is being made, according to the MTA Bus Company in a letter to Community Board 5, in order to avoid “congestion and delays at the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard.”

Maier spoke favorably of the relocation of the QM12, as it would “pull traffic away from an already overburdened intersection.”

Additionally, he reported that the MTA plans to adjust wait times on the B20 and Q54 bus lines in April. The MTA will increase bus frequency on the B20—which runs between Ridgewood and East New York— during late afternoon hours and the Q54 will have fewer buses during midday and evening hours.

The reduction in service on the Q54 will lengthen the average wait time from 15 to 20 minutes, Maier added.

Other news

Work has started at the Fresh Pond Road M train station as part of the MTA’s “station renewal” program. Maier reported the 62nd Street entrance has been closed, and crews have demolished the stairway and ramp to make way for replacements.

The panels have yet to hear feedback from the MTA regarding the eventual demolition of the ramp leading to the station from Fresh Pond Road. As previously reported, the MTA plans to eliminate the ramp and replace it with a sidewalk leading to the staircase.

Committee members urged the MTA to install a barrier along the length of the sidewalk in order to prevent individuals from crossing into the entrance to the Fresh Pond Bus Depot.

“It seems to me it’s a relatively easy solution to the problem that we presented to them,” said Transportation Committee Co-Chair John Schell. “It seems to me all they have to put in a 40” pipe railing for the length of the present ramp, and you’ve accomplished the same thing. We’re not asking for another $50,000 or $100,000 concrete wall.”

The reconstruction of the Cooper Avenue underpass remains on target for completion as early as June, Schell added. Work on the retaining wall along the westbound side is set to be completed by April, and once that project is finished, crews will install new sidewalks and curbs on both sides of the roadway.

Committee members expressed concerns of the widths of the sidewalks, which will make the two lanes for vehicular traffic in each direction more narrow. An accident or breakdown in one lane could make it impossible to maintain two-way traffic, Schell noted.

Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri stated that the state Department of Transportation is moving up the start of the Kosciuszko Bridge project. Construction of a new span will begin this fall as part of the project’s first phase, which is scheduled to be completed by 2018.

The first phase, Arcuri explained, includes the construction of the new bridge on the eastern side of the existing span. Once the new bridge is completed and traffic shifted onto it, the existing span will be demolished.

Arcuri added that the second phase—which includes the construction of a second span in place of the existing bridge—will begin after 2018.

The committees motioned to ask the city DOT to institute no standing restrictions at the northwest corner of Otto Road and 66th Place in Glendale. The panels also agreed to further investigate a request by a resident to relocate a traffic signal at the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Mount Olivet Crescent in Middle Village and a review of signal timing on Cooper Avenue between 80th and 88th streets in Glendale.

Members also voted to send a letter of no objection to the Taxi and Limousine Commission regarding the renewal of a base station license for Fenix Car Service, located at 586 Seneca Ave. in Ridgewood. They also voted to request that the DOT install a taxi stand in the vicinity of the Ridgewood Intermodal Terminal on Palmetto Street between Myrtle and St. Nicholas avenues.

The next meeting of Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees is scheduled to take place on Tuesday night, Mar. 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the board’s Glendale office, located at 61-23 Myrtle Ave. For additional information, call 1-718-366-1834.