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DOT Project Targets Austin Street Congestion, Parking Spaces to be Reduced

April 13, 2018 By Tara Law

The Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to combat congestion along Austin Street by adding truck loading zones, tweaking parking regulations and adding new crosswalks.

Representatives from the DOT presented the proposed changes before Community Board 6 Wednesday evening and said the plan would combat congestion caused by trucks double parking, pedestrians crossing mid-block and limited parking availability. 

The plan targets Austin Street between 69th Road and 72nd Road. (click for DOT plan)

The DOT said that it plans to tackle the double-parking problem by creating nine 60-foot long loading zones that would take up to 27 parking spaces over the course of the day along Austin and adjacent streets.

“We want to dedicate commercial space at the curb so trucks can access, do their deliveries and keep moving,” said Matt Garcia, a project manager for the Austin Street initiative.

The plan also looks to add new crosswalks at various intersections to reduce jaywalking, although the actual locations are still being determined.

Additionally, the DOT’s proposal would amend parking rules to disincentivize drivers from parking for long periods. For instance, the plans would extend metered parking from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. to discourage cars from parking overnight in busy areas.  

The DOT said that the various alterations would be implemented over the course of the spring. Following installation, the changes would be evaluated in six months, the officials said. 

The project was first presented to the community in February and after receiving feedback the DOT made several significant alterations. The DOT has reduced the number of truck loading zones—from 12 to nine— to preserve parking. The 12 loading zones would have taken 36 spaces.  The DOT has also shifted the location of some of the zones.

The loading zones would be in place Monday to Friday for specific times each day.

During the morning— which will be from 8:30 or 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.— the DOT would use all nine loading zones taking up 27 parking spaces. During the second bracket— 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.— it would use seven loading zones taking up 21 spaces. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., there would be one loading zoning in use taking up three spaces.

Several business owners spoke up after the DOT’s presentation to say that they are skeptical of the plans, despite the alterations.

Barry Rothenburg, an Austin Street property owner, said that he’s worried the loss of spots will hurt business.

“Once those signs are up, no one will park there,” Rothenburg said of the loading zone signs. “People have a fear of it and it will effectively kill the street.”

The DOT discussed several proposals intended to cut down the time that vehicles are parked in the area in order to open up spaces.

“In general, there’s just nowhere to park,” said Garcia. “There’s just so much going on Austin Street— if you ever have to find a parking space it’s really difficult.”

The DOT also aims to introduce a program that would permit drivers to park for a third hour to discourage long-term parking. The first two hours will cost the customary $1 per hour, and the third hour will cost $2.

Several community board members asked if the program would stop someone from discarding the first ticket instead of paying the extra dollar. Project manager Al Silvestri said that the program is intended make it easier for drivers to follow the law instead of meter feeding.

“It’s a disincentive,” Silvestri said. “We know meter feeding is something that happens in the city. We’re working as we move forward with technology. We can’t prevent it but we do think it’s a deterrent.”

The DOT also plans to increase the number of parking spaces that are available in the evenings by expanding the number of metered spots until 10 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. The change is intended to cut down on the number of cars that are parked overnight during times the spots are needed by restaurant and movie theater patrons.

Finally, the DOT discussed plans to add “enhanced” crosswalks— with ramps, bold markings and warning signs to Austin Street’s intersections at 70th Ave., 72nd Ave., 72nd Rd. and 71st Rd. The locations are still being finalized.

For DOT plan, click here

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13 Comments

Eric

So the DOT’s plan is to “combat congestion”, caused in part by “limited parking availability”, by “tweaking parking rules” (i.e., by limiting parking even more). I guess their goal is to take away any incentive for drivers to patronize all the businesses there, which is the reason people try to park in the first place. At the rate they’re going, sooner or later the truck loading zones won’t be needed, so we’ll get the trucks off the road, too. Mission accomplished.

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Sherri Rosen

Reducing parking?? Get rid of the bike lanes which add to the danger and obstacle course that is Queens. Keep the parking spots and stop ignoring those cars with city permits on their dashboards when they are not conducting city business! You should have left Barnes & Noble there! Near my dentist on 70th Road, off 108th Street, there are “no standing”signs there. Hard enough to park because of all of the private homes and fire hydrants. DOT Commish must go!

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Jack

Honestly, my objection isn’t so much to the bike lanes as to where they are located. They don’t belong on a major thoroughfare. Isn’t the whole point of using the bike to NOT need the major streets?

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Leo

Which genius invented this plan? It’s already hard to park there, given the no parking hours for rush hour and 4-7pm, plus congestion. How about having the traffic cops who stand around on Queens boulevard actually (actively) manage traffic at the 71-Austin crossing? So many days I’ve seen a UPS truck or the DuaneReade delivery truck blocking all the traffic so that 71st avenue effectively becomes a one-lane road. Add to that the improperly timed lights which fouls up traffic flow, taking 2 cycles to get through the intersection? Add to that the buses that block up the road because there are 2 together, trying to turn? There’s so much they’re ignoring.

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Midtowngirl

This city is quickly becoming anti-car. Bike lanes have eliminated so many parking spaces and have you ever tried exiting in a car from Queens Blvd main road since the bike lanes? You have to really strain your neck to see oncoming traffic. Very difficult for older people to use their cars. The alternatives for older or handicapped……not everyone can use a Citibike, many subway stations do not have escalators or those horrible stinky elevators, you can freeze to death by the time a bus comes (usually 2 at a time……what’s with the schedule?). There are a lot of doctors in the area and patients need to drive here. Meters til 10:00.? Try eating when your car is parked blocks away and you have to feed the meter. I think Austin St is teetering on the edge as it is. This will only create more problems. Note, I am not totally against no parking early in morning for trucks . Also note, Florida is looking very good to me lateky!

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Jack G

Regarding moving from the main road to the service road. I voiced a complaint to DOT through the Queens BP office. After almost two months, their response was basically “turn your neck”. Your tax dollars at work.

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wendy

What they need is a light or at least a stop sign where the parking lot and Target is… Im surprised no one has gotten killed there… too much traffic on Austin St.. walking is good for you..

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Ed

The DOT got rid of parking spots along Queens Blvd to make space for a bike lane. Obviously that led to more people circling the area looking for parking. Now they are reducing parking spots even more. I feel bad for the businesses here. I live in Richmond Hill but I avoid Austin because it’s always crowded and takes too long to get around. If I manage to get a metered spot, I have to hustle to make sure I can complete my dinner or errands on time so I don’t get a ticket. How can you enjoy a meal like that?

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Peter Beadle

Right, so you avoided Austin Street BEFORE there even was a bike lane. Because parking was ALREADY a mess. Incidentally, parking has not yet been reduced on Queens Blvd adjacent to this stretch of Austin, this has nothing to do with the bike lanes. It is a long standing chronic problem.

And it’s been such a problem because despite sitting on an LIRR line, 4 subway lines and multiple bus lines, people insist on using their cars to get there. People with cars here in Central Queens have an “inner suburb” as opposed to an “outer borough” mentality and drive anywhere they can, even when they have alternatives. That is what causes congestion – it is what stopped you already from going to Austin St.

The City needs to give people more alternatives to getting around. Bike lanes for those who can, and added buses and better routes, and a fixed subway need to be priorities. Ensuring there is street parking, which only encourages people to use their cars, which will make an ALREADY existing problem worse, is counter productive to moving people in this City. It is bad policy.

With that said, this plan actually tries too hard to maintain parking. The meters should be increased to $3/hr at least and I think they roll back the loading zones too quickly. This plan does nothing to disincentive people driving to Austin St. It perhaps will help with some double parking, especially by trucks, and make more parking available for those coming for dinner and an evening movie, which are good things, but congestion will not be affected much by this.

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Hannah

i think the idea at least is that they want to get discourage double parking delivery trucks by giving them dedicated spots earlier in the day, which would then convert to more parking spots for shoppers later in the day . Thats the hope.

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Sue

This Di Blasio is harming our businesses by not letting park cars by the store to do some shopping. Ok. Trucks will park, deliver merchandize. But who is gonna buy their stuff, if people have no access to those stores?

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Peter Beadle

Very few customers are arriving by car. I never use a car to get to Forest Hills – mass transit or bike for me (and I do own a car). Do any of the merchants poll their shoppers? It seems everyone simply accepts as an article of faith that everyone drives to the shops when that isn’t remotely true. Look at all the people pouring in and out of the subways and buses – far, far more people use these modes of transportation than personal cars. A greater focus on improving mass transit and less worrying about personal parking spaces would do much more to help businesses. There are other people commenting on this thread saying they ALREADY don’t come to Austin street because its a mess. Fix the mess, and make it easier for that person to use a bus or train to come up here and now merchants will get that person’s dollars. Congestion hurts businesses now, and you can only decrease congestion if you decrease use of cars.

Unfortunately, this plan doesn’t really accomplish that goal. It has some good features and the loading zones are good ideas, but they are rolled back too quickly, and parking remains far too cheap. An incremental improvement, but a missed opportunity to really redesign the space and make it a bigger attraction to folks who would use mass transit instead of cars to come out here. We need to be attracting folks from Western Queens and Manhattan, not people from Long Island who insist on using an SUV to move 1 or 2 people.

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Ellen

This plan is terrible. To have meters until 10pm is just to hussle more money from us. Now during dinner people will have to run out to feed the meters. Stores all deserting Austin St as it is, now just making things worse instead of better. What idiot dreamed up this plan. No place to park, & I dont see any trucks there anyway.

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