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Local News May 2, 2013  RSS feed

READY TO ROLL ON BIKE LANES

Look To Add CB 5 Area To City Network
by Robert Pozarycki

The city is gearing up to expand its bike lane network into the confines of Community Board 5, and residents will have a chance to provide their ideas at an upcoming public forum, it was announced at a meeting last Tuesday, Apr. 23, of Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees in Glendale.

Board 5, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) Transportation bureau will hold a workshop session next Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the cafeby teria of Maspeth High School, located at the corner of 57th Avenue and 74th Street.

John Maier, co-chair of Board 5’s Public Transit Committee, stated that the session’s goal is to gather input from the public on how to create a “local bicycle infrastructure” for the neighborhoods of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village.

Maier stated that the DCP’s Transportation Bureau is taking the lead on the Board 5 project since the DOT is busy with a host of other bike lane plans across the city. Two DCP officials spearheading the effort are Jack Schmidt, a resident of the Glendale area, and Kristina Schmidt.

The May 11 session will feature an overview from city officials about the bike route network, including the methodologies used in determining where bike lanes can be established, according to Maier. Attendees will then break up into separate groups to brainstorm ideas about where the bike network could be connected to and through the Board 5 area.

“All are welcome to come and have a positive conversation about how to effectively put bike infrastructure into our community,” Maier said. “They will give some kind of insight for people to use when they sit down to talk about how people go through the community and use the community on their bikes.”

The primary bike path through Board 5, as designated by the DOT, is the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway, which generally runs through Forest Park, Highland Park, the Ridgewood Reservoir and parts of Ridgewood and Glendale. Outside of park areas, the greenway runs through Cypress Hills Street between Cooper Avenue and the Jackie Robinson Parkway; Cooper Avenue between Cypress Hills Street and 73rd Place/78th Avenue; 78th Avenue between 73rd Place and 79th Street/79th Place; 79th Street (southbound) and 79th Place (northbound) between Myrtle and 78th avenues; and Myrtle Avenue between 79th Street/79th Place and Forest Park Drive. The greenway then turns into Forest Park from the intersection of Forest Park Drive and Myrtle Avenue.

The 2013 New York City Bike Map identifies several streets in Board 5’s confines as “potential bicycle routes” under consideration by the DOT. They include the following (as listed by neighborhood):

• Ridgewood—Fresh Pond Road between Metropolitan Avenue and Cypress Hills Street; Forest Avenue between Metropolitan and Gates avenues; Gates Avenue between Forest and Myrtle Avenues; and Myrtle Avenue between Gates Avenue and Fresh Pond Road.

• Glendale—Myrtle Avenue between Fresh Pond Road and Cypress Hills Street; Cypress Hills Street between Fresh Pond Road and Cooper Avenue; Cypress Avenue between Cooper Avenue and Vermont Place; Cooper Avenue between Wyckoff Avenue and Cypress Hills Street and between 80th Street and Woodhaven Boulevard; and 80th Street between Cooper and Myrtle avenues.

• Maspeth—Maurice Avenue between Rust and 69th streets; Maspeth Avenue between Maurice Avenue and 61st Street; Grand Avenue between the Newtown Creek and 61st Street; 61st Street between Maspeth Avenue and Fresh Pond Road; Fresh Pond Road between 61st Street and Eliot Avenue; and 69th Street between Eliot and Maurice avenues.

• Middle Village—Eliot Avenue between Metropolitan Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard; Fresh Pond Road between Eliot and Metropolitan avenues; 69th Street between Eliot Avenue and Juniper Valley Road; Juniper Valley Road between 69th and 80th streets; and 80th Street between Juniper Valley Road and Cooper Avenue.

“They want to hear the suggestions from the community about what would work, what wouldn’t work,” Maier added. “They’re going to talk about that kind of thing: what can a street handle, what can’t it handle. What are the thresholds that they can put a lane in or what types of lanes can they put in onto different size roads. And then from that, you can sit down, look at a map and start discussing those things.”

Cooper Avenue update

Crews have completed the reconstruction of the retaining walls on the Cooper Avenue underpass, according to Fern Weinreich of the Department of Design and Construction (DDC). Work is now underway to install new sidewalks and curbs on the underpass between 74th and 79th streets on the Glendale/Middle Village border.

Responding to complaints raised at the previous meeting of the committees regarding DOT changes to roadway patterns in the area, Weinreich delivered to the board updated plans to review. She added that DDC officials are working on arranging a meeting with the DOT to address some of the board’s concerns, including the conversion of the one-way block of 74th Street between 78th and Cooper avenues from southbound to northbound.

Transportation Committee Cochair John Schell and panel members Richard Huber and Roland Belay will be reviewing the revised construction plans and provide comment to the DDC and DOT.

Lamenting project delays

The proposed reconstruction of Wyckoff Avenue between Flushing and Cooper avenues on the Brooklyn/ Queens border in Ridgewood remains delayed, and Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri observed it appeared few in city government are willing to move the project forward.

“I’ve said it before—it seems we’re the only people in the world that are interested in the reconstruction of Wyckoff Avenue,” Arcuri said. He explained the proposal includes the replacement of the roadbed as well as sewer, water and electric lines running below the street. The plan also includes similar repairs to side streets feeding into Wyckoff Avenue.

“There’s no update on it, and no one seems to be pushing for it. It’s drastically needed,” the chairperson said, adding that the repairs would not only improve traffic and utility service in the area but also increase property values and attract new residents to Ridgewood.

“The Ridgewood section of Brooklyn and our area south of Myrtle Avenue is just waiting for some impetus [for growth]. We’ve got the M train and the L train,” Arcuri said. “Reconstruction will take care of traffic problems. We have a major safety problem at Wyckoff and Myrtle avenues with recent fatalities.”

“We need to ask why the project has not been pushed forward,” the chairperson added.

It was suggested that the committee reach out to City Council Member Diana Reyna, who is spearheading a campaign to improve pedestrian safety at the corner of Wyckoff and Myrtle Avenues, to request funding to move the Wyckoff Avenue project forward.

Arcuri and District Manager Gary Giordano also updated members about a number of projects in the area.

• Work on the design of the new Grand Street Bridge, the construction of which has been delayed until at lest 2020, has been stopped, according to Arcuri. Part of the reason is due to the DOT’s ongoing examination of a recent report about the projected rise in sea levels by 2050 and its potential impact on New York City waterways such as the Newtown Creek, which the bridge crosses.

• The reconstruction of the bridge that carries Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road over the Montauk branch of the Long Island Rail Road is scheduled to begin in June 2014, Giordano stated. The board would request updated preliminary designs for the bridge’s reconstruction as well as information from the DOT regarding the possibility of detours, Arcuri added.

• The reconstruction of streets in southern Middle Village has also been delayed indefinitely due to a lack of funding in place for the project to move forward, Giordano and Arcuri reported. The district manager noted, however, that the DOT is working on the design plans for the project.

“Contrary to reports in the past, we can find no funding in place” in the city budget for the project, Arcuri added.

Ted Renz, co-chair of the Public Transit Committee, added that the city’s Public Design Commission has approved the plans for a new public plaza around the Glendale Memorial Triangle, which includes the short block of 70th Street between Myrtle and Cooper avenues. Construction is expected to begin next year.

Other news

At the request of local residents, committee members agreed to study the potential need for traffic calming devices (such as stop signs, signals, turning lanes or speed bumps) along 69th Lane between Eliot and 60th avenues in Maspeth and at the intersection of Cooper and Cypress avenues in Ridgewood.

Committee members also debated the potential revitalization of the long-defunct Rockaway Beach branch of the LIRR, which runs between Rego Park and Ozone Park. As previously reported, the line is the subject of controversy as various groups are seeking to bringing back train service to the branch or turning it into a nature trail/bike path.

Arcuri stated that members of the Public Transit Committee will examine the issue further and present a recommendation to be voted on by the committee, followed by the full board, at upcoming meetings.

The next meeting of Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees is scheduled to take place on Tuesday night, May 21, 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.