Feb. 19, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Construction is slated to begin on the final phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign project this summer — two years behind schedule.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) said it will begin phase four of the project — which will go from Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike — this summer with the project expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
The DOT will be installing protected bicycle lanes, shortening pedestrian crossings and implementing other traffic safety features to the Forest Hills stretch this summer. The project also involves the elimination of about 200 parking spaces.
The revamp will be the final phase of the 7.5-mile overhaul of Queens Boulevard from Sunnyside to Kew Gardens that began in 2015 in order to reduce the number of pedestrian and cyclists deaths.
Work on phase four was initially scheduled to begin in summer 2018.
A spokesperson for the DOT didn’t provide an answer as to why the project has been delayed. The DOT just said that construction would start this summer and be done by the end of the year. No other details were provided.
Transit advocates have criticized the agency for the delay and have staged rallies calling on the DOT to complete phase four of the redesign.
“Every single day that they say ‘we’re going to complete this but we have no timeline’, they’re putting people’s lives at risk,” Juan Restrepo, the Queens organizer for Transportation Alternatives, said in March 2019.
In an Oct. 21 2019 interview on NY1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the redesign would be completed in 2020.
“When we took on Vision Zero at the beginning of my administration, one of the first focal points was Queens Boulevard,” de Blasio said. “It used to be called the Boulevard of Death. We got really used to that in the city. That’s how bad things were.”
“Getting the last piece done really matters,” the mayor said at the time.
The redesign is not without controversy and many people do not support it.
Queens Community Board 6 and Council Member Karen Koslowitz both oppose the redesign plan because it will eliminate about 200 parking spaces.
CB6 voted down phase four on June 13, 2018, with 22 board members opposed and 12 in favor of the project. They worried business owners would lose customers who couldn’t find parking.
Koslowitz, who supported Phase 3 of the project, remains opposed to the redesign of the Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike stretch.
“The administration is proposing extending the current bike lanes in my district to Union Turnpike,” she said in a statement to the Queens Post. “I am not opposed to bike lanes, however, I do oppose this plan (Phase 4).”
“The plan does nothing to minimize the loss of parking which impacts residents and businesses alike; nor does it do anything to enhance the safety of bike riders,” she said.