May 13, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The final stretch of the Queens Boulevard Redesign project has hit yet another setback — this time in the form of a global pandemic.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) was planning to begin construction of the fourth and final phase to make the busy boulevard safer for cyclists and pedestrians this summer — with the project expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
The project — already a full two years behind schedule — will be further delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said during a City Council hearing Tuesday.
The redesign must be reviewed by the State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration before the NYC DOT can move forward with construction — and that review process has been paused due to the pandemic.
“As the Commissioner said at the hearing, that process had been on track, but has been delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis,” a DOT spokesperson said. “Once that review is complete, DOT will be able to provide a more detailed timeline for implementing this critical safety project.”
The DOT was expected to begin installing protected bicycle lanes, shortening pedestrian crossings and implementing other traffic safety features to the Forest Hills stretch from Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike in summer 2018 — but the work was pushed back to summer 2020.
The final phase has been repeatedly delayed due to opposition from the local community board and Council Member Karen Koslowitz who said the resulting loss of 200 parking spots would hurt small businesses along the boulevard.
Koslowitz put forward an alternative plan, which would save the parking spots, at a town hall with the mayor in February, which he agreed to review. However, transit advocates claimed her plan was unsafe and worried its review would add to the delays.
The department still hopes to begin the installation later this year.
“DOT remains committed to the Queens Boulevard redesign, and hopes to be able to implement the project starting later this year,” the spokesperson said.
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 along the road.