Assembly Member Francisco Moya was in no rush to let his constituents know about the town hall meeting he ran at St. Leo’s Parish on Monday evening about the proposed redesign of 111th Street in Corona. No wonder: The event was an elaborate ploy to stop a street safety project that neighborhood advocates have worked long and hard to bring to fruition.
Recognizing that 111th Street’s highway-like design creates a barrier between the neighborhood and Flushing Meadows Corona Park, last year the Queens Museum, Immigrant Movement International, Make the Road New York, and Transportation Alternatives got the ball rolling on a safer 111th Street. The campaign garnered the support of Council Member Julissa Ferreras, who allocated $2.7 million in discretionary capital funds for the redesign of 111th Street. This year DOT proposed narrowing crossing distances for pedestrians while adding a two-way protected bike lane and curbside car parking.
Moya has led the opposition to the plan, consistently citing his desire to maintain all the car lanes on 111th Street to accommodate traffic to large events at Citi Field and the U.S. Open. Monday was no different in that regard. “We know that whenever there’s a Mets game, U.S. Open, or any one of these, we know we hit a lot of traffic,” Moya said. “No parking, side streets become an issue, people park in the driveways; we hear a lot of the complaints.”
While Ferraras held two public workshops this summer where local residents weighed in on what they want from 111th Street, Moya’s event was more of a one-man show.
The Assembly member presented “alternatives” that include a bike path in some form. What they don’t include are feasible steps to make 111th Street less of a highway and more of a neighborhood street where people can safely walk and bike. (Ironically, while Moya complained about the parking crunch on game days, none of his plans would add any — only DOT’s would.)
“None of Moya’s proposals address the fact that there are too many lanes on 111th Street, which encourages speeding and causes crashes,” said Jaime Moncayo, Queens organizer for Transportation Alternatives.