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Posts from the Long Island City Category

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Total L.I.C. Street Rebuild to Include Safety Overhauls for Key Intersections

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer alongside the DDC and DOT Commissioners this morning. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Pena-Mora (to the left) and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg (on the right) this morning. Photo: David Meyer

The streets of Long Island City are getting a total rebuild, and as part of the project four major intersections along Jackson Avenue and Vernon Boulevard will get redesigned for greater safety.

Many other intersections could get curb extensions or other traffic-calming treatments as part of the $38.47 million neighborhood-wide street reconstruction. Speaking this morning at the foot of the Pulaski Bridge, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said DOT will prioritize four intersections: 21st Street and Jackson Avenue, 23rd Street and Jackson Avenue, Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue, and Vernon Boulevard and 44th Drive.

Jackson and 11th Street, a complex multi-leg intersection that pedestrians and cyclists have to navigate to get to the Pulaski Bridge, will also be improved. Once the Pulaski Bridge bikeway opens this spring, there will be a lot more room for walking and biking, and the approach on the Queens side could use an upgrade.

Long Island City’s population is on track to soar as new development hits the market. But sandwiched by the Queensboro Bridge to the north and the Pulaski Bridge and Midtown Tunnel to the south, the neighborhood is often overrun by car and truck traffic, creating an unpleasant and unsafe environment for pedestrians.

In December, Van Bramer, DDC, and DOT hosted a public workshop where local residents and business owners overwhelmingly cited Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue as streets in need of safety improvements. Jackson Avenue feeds into the Pulaski and is the site of several popular attractions, including MOMA P.S. 1, but has few safe crosswalks. In 2015 alone, 31 people were injured on Jackson Avenue within the project boundaries.

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Eyes on the Street: Just Another Brush With Death at a Typical NYC Crossing


The design of 29th Street and 39th Avenue in Long Island City is typical of thousands of New York City crossings: an intersection of relatively narrow streets where drivers are allowed to park to the edge of crosswalks with no design elements to force motorists to slow down.

The combination of poor visibility and lack of traffic-calming features leads to crashes like the one in the video, taken Thursday, when an Access-A-Ride driver sped into a crosswalk while turning left and struck a child with a van’s door-mounted mirror. Luckily it appears the child wasn’t seriously hurt.

Jean Cawley, who sent us the video, has written to DOT officials, including Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia, several times to ask for traffic-calming measures at this intersection and other locations in the area. Cawley also submitted a petition to DOT from residents of Dutch Kills.

Consistent NYPD enforcement wouldn’t hurt either. The 114th Precinct, where the crash in the video occurred, issues an average of just 23 tickets a month to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians.

Below are images from a two-vehicle collision at the same intersection that sent a cab onto the sidewalk.

“Cars barrel through our streets in a dangerous manner all day, every day,” wrote Cawley in an email to Garcia, with the video and photos attached. “I hope you will help. DOT’s actions may save a life.”

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Long Island City’s Streets Need to Catch Up With a Growing Neighborhood

Jackson Avenue cuts diagonally into 11th Street right where it intersects with the Pulaski Bridge approach, a nightmare for all users. Image: Google Maps

Jackson Avenue cuts diagonally into 11th Street right where it intersects with the Pulaski Bridge approach, creating a hostile environment for walking and biking. Image: Google Maps

Long Island City is booming with new residences, and more are on the way with the massive Hunters Point South development. As the area becomes home to more people, its streets need to catch up.

On Wednesday night, Council Member Van Bramer and DOT hosted a public workshop to discuss how $8 million in capital funds can be put to use redesigning the neighborhood’s streets. About 25 Long Island City residents and businesspeople attended.

With the Queensboro Bridge, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and the Pulaski Bridge on its borders, Long Island City is overrun with more traffic than most neighborhoods. Many industrial business remain, leading to heavy truck traffic, particularly on Jackson Avenue and Vernon Boulevard. And with scant on-street parking regulations, Manhattanites have used Long Island City as a free parking lot for decades. Residents at the meeting said drivers routinely travel far above the speed limit on the neighborhood’s streets.

DOT has been studying the area since January and plans to develop a preliminary plan for the neighborhood to be presented early next year. At the workshop, attendees split into three groups and worked with DOT reps to discuss streets and intersections most in need of improvement. “We’re looking for opportunities to have the different modes have a better way to get around the neighborhood,” DOT Queens Borough Planner Samantha Dolgoff said.

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Eyes on the Street: Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Rounding Into Form

tantalizing_pulaski

The concrete barrier to protect the bikeway now covers the whole span. Photo: David Meyer

DOT crews are taking advantage of the frighteningly warmer-than-usual late fall weather to make serious progress on the Pulaski Bridge bikeway.

When the bikeway is complete, pedestrians and cyclists will have a lot more room and won’t have to share the crowded path on the west side of the bridge. The concrete barrier separating the bike lane from motor vehicle traffic consists of both pre-cast and cast-in-place segments. As of yesterday, the barrier appeared to cover the whole span, but work on it was clearly still going on. Closing the slip lane on the Queens side of the bridge is also a work in progress.

The Pulaski project was originally slated to wrap up last December before getting delayed by red tape. For a moment it looked like construction wouldn’t start until 2016, but crews were able to begin in September. So will the bikeway be complete before the winter freeze pauses construction? DOT isn’t counting on it, with the agency slating the opening for the spring.

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Eyes on the Street: Progress on Pulaski Bridge Bikeway

Photo: DOT

Photo: DOT

Last week DOT posted photos of construction work on the Pulaski Bridge bikeway on the project’s Facebook page. DOT is adding a protected lane that will create more room for people who bike and walk the bridge, which connects Greenpoint and Long Island City over Newtown Creek.

The project has been on New Yorkers’ wish list for years, and has been delayed a few times. In August DOT said drainage problems would push the start of construction to next spring, but those issues were resolved within a few weeks and things got started soon after.

It looks like work is moving apace. Doug Gordon tweeted a pic today, and thanked Assembly Member Joe Lentol, a vocal proponent since 2012, for his support of the project.

We’ve asked DOT about the timeline and will post the agency’s response if we get one.

Photo: DOT

Photo: DOT

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Eyes on the Street: Signs That the Pulaski Bikeway Will Really Happen

pulaski_cones

A reader sends in this shot of the southbound side of the Pulaski Bridge, taken yesterday morning. That was the day NYC DOT said construction would start on the two-way protected bike lane over the bridge, which has been beset by delays until recently.

Not that long ago it looked like construction of the bikeway, originally slated for 2014, might not begin until next March. But in the last few weeks the timetable has accelerated, and now DOT says it will be complete by the spring.

Those orange construction cones may not look like much, but they’re a sign that people won’t have to fight over scraps of space on the Pulaski’s narrow, shared biking and walking path much longer.

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Lentol: Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Construction to Begin September 14

Construction of the Pulaski Bridge protected bike lane is now set to begin in a matter of days, according to Assembly Member Joe Lentol, and could wrap before the end of the year.

Coming, potentially sooner than expected. Image: DOT

The Pulaski Bridge bikeway may be back on track to wrap up in 2015. Image: DOT

DOT had announced last month that drainage design issues would delay the start of construction until next March, but that no longer seems to be the case.

Lentol says the complications have been resolved sooner than expected, and DOT will begin installation of the bikeway on September 14, potentially wrapping up by the end of the year.

DOT did not respond to an inquiry about the project timeline.

The Pulaski Bridge bikeway will provide relief for pedestrians and cyclists who currently share a narrow path on the west side of the bridge between Greenpoint and Long Island City. It will also calm traffic on the southbound side the bridge, which funnels traffic onto McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint and will have two lanes instead of three.

The project had already been delayed once after the initial timetable pegged it for completion last year. It looks like there won’t be a second major delay after all.

With Citi Bike arriving on both sides of the bridge this month, that’s welcome news to Lentol, who’s been a booster of the project since 2012. “I am delighted that this project could potentially be completed before the winter. We have been fighting for a long time for this dedicated bike lane,” he said. “I applaud DOT and the company fabricating the barriers for making this project a top priority.”

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Pulaski Bridge Bike Path Delayed Again, Now Scheduled for April 2016

Wait til next year, again: The Pulaski Bridge bike path has been delayed until April 2015. Rendering: DOT

Wait til next year, again: The Pulaski Bridge bike path has been delayed until April 2016. Rendering: DOT

Construction delays will push completion of the Pulaski Bridge protected bike lane to 2016, says DOT, the second setback for the project. Until the dedicated bikeway is built, the bridge’s narrow walking and biking path will only get more cramped as Citi Bike debuts in the neighborhoods on both sides of the bridge.

The bike path would calm traffic and relieve an uncomfortable bottleneck for people biking and walking between Greenpoint and Long Island City. The project was initially set to wrap up in 2014, then red tape delayed it until the end of this year. Citing issues with drainage design, DOT now says it is scheduled to be complete next April.

The Pulaski is a drawbridge, making the addition of physical barriers a greater engineering challenge. The drawbridge section will receive steel rail barriers, while barriers on the approach spans will be concrete. The concrete barriers are currently being fabricated off-site, DOT said.

DOT had begun initial work on the project this spring and planned on installing the barriers this year, but the agency is holding off to ensure its design will properly drain the bridge deck during rainfall.

Assembly Member Joe Lentol has been pushing DOT for the Pulaski bikeway since 2012. At yesterday’s Citi Bike ribbon-cutting in Long Island City, Lentol needled Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg about the bridge, a vital link within Citi Bike’s expansion zone.

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Eyes on the Street: Vernon Boulevard Gets Bike Lane Barriers

New concrete barriers are being added to Vernon Boulevard in Queens. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

New concrete barriers are being added to Vernon Boulevard in Queens. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Biking in western Queens is getting a welcome upgrade.

The two-way bike lane on Vernon Boulevard has not had any type of protection from traffic since it was installed in 2013. The lane was frequently obstructed by drivers who used it as a parking spot.

Now, DOT is installing barriers along the bikeway to keep cars out. The project received the most votes on Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s participatory budgeting ballot.

Concrete Jersey barriers are going in along much of Vernon Boulevard, while some sections are getting flexible plastic bollards. There will also be short sections without barriers to accommodate turning trucks or to make room for passengers boarding buses.

The barriers, which are in the process of being installed this week, aim to fix problems like this. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

The barriers, which are in the process of being installed this week, aim to fix problems like this. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Two other sections of Vernon Boulevard that won’t receive barriers are the gaps in the bikeway at Queensbridge Park and Rainey Park. With curbside parking along the park edges, cyclists either have to shift to sharrows on Vernon Boulevard or use more circuitous waterfront paths in the parks.

Installation of the barriers is currently underway and expected to wrap soon.

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DOT Agrees to Make Bike Crossing Over LIE in Long Island City Less Hairy

Image: DOT [PDF]

One lane of car traffic is being removed to make way for two curbside bike lanes over the LIE. Image: DOT [PDF]

Biking over the Long Island Expressway on Greenpoint Avenue is set to get a little less nerve-wracking now that DOT has upgraded its plans for a key block. DOT agreed to add curbside bike lanes to the dangerous Queens crossing in response to local advocates and the community board. The plan comes up for a vote at the CB 2 full board tonight.

The agency had been proposing sharrows on Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside, but after years of agitation from members of Community Board 2 and the Transportation Alternatives Queens committee about an especially dangerous location, DOT is tweaking its plan to add bike lanes where Greenpoint crosses the LIE at Borden Avenue [PDF].

One lane of eastbound car traffic on Greenpoint will be reallocated to green curbside bike lanes in both directions. Cyclists will still have to navigate a crush of turning traffic, particularly on the eastbound approach to the intersection, but the change is a big improvement over the status quo.

DOT is also studying whether to adjust signals at the intersections on Greenpoint approaching the highway crossing, to give cyclists in both directions a head start on turning motorists. “That’s key to making the whole intersection work,” said TA Queens volunteer Steve Scofield.

The Queens CB 2 transportation committee supported the bike lane upgrade Tuesday night as part of a larger package of bike improvements in Long Island City and Sunnyside, Scofield said. The plan includes upgrading sharrows on 11th Street to bike lanes by removing one car lane in each direction, adding bike lanes to the Honeywell Street bridge, and adding sharrows to Jackson Avenue.

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