March 28, 2019, By Meghan Sackman
A transportation advocacy group is holding a rally in Forest Hills on Sunday to call on the DOT to complete the final stretch of the Queens Boulevard redesign–between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike.
Transportation Alternatives will be holding its rally at MacDonald Park from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday and will be demanding that the DOT implement Phase IV of the Queens Boulevard plan, which will lead to protected bicycle lanes, shorter pedestrian crossings and the elimination of 200 parking spaces between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike.
The DOT said earlier this month that it plans to move forward with Phase IV but has yet to start construction or given a date. The agency, however, said last spring that it planned for the overhaul to be completed during summer of 2018.
“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,” said Juan Restrepo, the Queens organizer for Transportation Alternatives.
The completion of Phase IV would be the final stretch of the redesign of Queens Boulevard that began in 2015 and would cover 7 1/2 miles of roadway from Sunnyside to Kew Gardens.
Restrepo said that it has been more than 300 days since the DOT said that Phase IV would take place and still no timeline has been provided.
The implementation of Phase IV, however, has faced stiff local opposition.
Community Board 6 voted down Phase IV of the plan on June 13, 2018, with 22 board members opposed and 12 in favor of the project. The board’s vote, however, was advisory and most thought the DOT would start construction soon after—especially since the mayor supports the plan.
The board’s main concern was the loss of about 200 parking spaces to make way for the protected bicycle lanes. It argued that small businesses would suffer.
Council Member Karen Koslowitz has been a critic of Phase IV too, saying that it would hurt small businesses and that protected bicycle lanes on Queens Boulevard–from Phase I through III– are hardly used.
“I travel Queens Boulevard every single day,” Koslowitz said last June at a 112 Police Precinct meeting. “I just used Queens Boulevard [on my way back from Manhattan]. I didn’t see one bike. I am not against bikes or against [protected] bike lanes per se but I am against them on Queens Boulevard.”
Regardless of the concerns and vote against the bike lanes, Frank Gulluscio, District Manager of Community Board 6, said he has been in touch with DOT and that Phase IV is in fact happening.
“It’s going to happen,” Gulluscio said. “We expect work to start any day now.”