With thousands of bus riders per hour traveling each direction on Archer Avenue, DOT’s proposed bus improvements for Downtown Jamaica are some of the most important street redesigns on the table right now. But previous bus improvements in this part of Queens have been politically vulnerable — a proposed Select Bus Service route along Merrick Boulevard was scuttled after local merchants fought against it in 2007. So, for one perspective on the political prospects of the project, we checked in with Council Member Leroy Comrie, who represents Jamaica and hosted an open house on DOT’s proposal Tuesday night.
While Comrie told the Daily News that he’s not pleased with the part of the proposal that calls for converting segments of Jamaica Avenue to one-way traffic flow, in a phone call with Streetsblog he seemed willing to support the expanded bus lanes if merchant deliveries can be integrated into the plan.
The council member said that Tuesday’s open house was a success. The “free-flow discussion, more like a charrette” showed that DOT was open to suggestions, he said. Comrie himself has some recommendations for DOT, though so far he’s only made them informally. One question, he said, is “whether or not the bus lanes would be impacting during the non-rush hours that would prohibitively affect the businesses from getting deliveries.”
Comrie distinguished those concerns from the merchant fears of losing curbside parking that torpedoed the Merrick Boulevard SBS. On that route, he said, “most of the businesses, their prime time for customers was during the morning and evening rush.” Comrie is more concerned with off-peak delivery access as opposed to peak hour customer parking. Comrie said he hadn’t heard much from local businesses about the proposed bus lane changes yet.
Comrie also urged DOT to make sure that both public and private transit (dollar vans) were able to speedily access Jamaica. “What are we going to do to try and work the van traffic through and give them some dedicated space also, since they are here and people will use them?” he asked.