Ferreras: “My Focus Is to Make 111th Street One Hundred Percent Safe”

Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Council Member Julissa Ferreras, left, listens in during a workshop about a plan for 111th Street yesterday. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

A grassroots effort to improve safety on extra-wide 111th Street in Corona yielded a DOT plan for a road diet, better pedestrian crossings, and a protected bike lane this spring. Then two members of Queens Community Board 4 stymied the proposal, at least for the time being. To keep the project moving forward, Council Member Julissa Ferreras has organized two neighborhood town halls this month.

Nearly 50 people turned out yesterday afternoon for the first meeting at the New York Hall of Science. DOT gave a presentation before splitting participants into small groups to get feedback on the proposal [PDF] and hear concerns about safety on 111th Street, which widens to become a multi-lane divided road alongside Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The heart of the plan is reducing the street to one motor vehicle lane in each direction and adding a curbside protected bike path next to the park. With fewer car lanes, speeding will be reduced and crossing the street to get to the park won’t be so challenging.

Most attendees were in favor of the change. “It’s going to be safe for me and my kids,” said Delia Tufino, who began bicycling a year ago as part of a program launched by Immigrant Movement International and the Queens Museum. “I think it’s important to bring the community out,” she said of the workshop.

Some residents fear the change will lead to gridlock on days when special events are held in the park. DOT says traffic volumes on the street can be easily accommodated with one lane each way, and additional traffic from special events can be handled with changes to traffic signal timing. 111th Street already has one lane in each direction north of 46th Avenue.

Opponents of the plan have the ear of Assembly Member Francisco Moya, who sent a staffer to read a statement at yesterday’s workshop. “Reducing car traffic to one lane only on 111th Street, as proposed, will create additional traffic congestion,” it read. “That is why I am calling on the DOT to reevaluate their proposal.”

Ferreras offered a different perspective. “I have learned in politics that I will not be able to make a hundred percent of the people one hundred percent happy,” she said at the end of the meeting. “My focus is to make 111th Street one hundred percent safe.”

The second workshop is planned for Wednesday, July 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the cafeteria in the New York Hall of Science. The plan will go before the community board at its next general meeting on September 8, said CB 4 district manager Christian Cassagnol.

  • steely

    julisSAFERreras

  • Kevin Love

    “My focus is to make 111th Street one hundred percent safe.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    100% safe means a car-free street.

  • Well 100% safe as a goal is a good thing, and remember 100% safe can mean for pedestrians, bikes and drivers. And that road does provide access to a number of important business that make delieveries: museums, restaurants, hospitals, etc. So I get what you mean Kevin, but striving for safety for all modes is sometimes a bit different than 100% safe for only pedestrians and bikes.

  • Mr. Modal

    Julissa Ferreras has turned in to a stalwart defender for livable streets. And rightfully so as the 4 or 5 times per year in in her district I see lots of walking, biking and the need for more reliable transit. Thank you council woman Ferreras!

  • Kevin Love

    What I had in mind was 100% safe for people.

    For example, the rather large car-free zone in downtown Utrecht. Which has museums, restaurants, (don’t know about hospitals) and the major shopping district. See:

    https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/car-free-city-centre-in-utrecht/

  • So, I’m sure they’ve done traffic projections, and one lane each way probably would be fine. But they shouldn’t even need to do this. The answer should be, “I’m willing to trade traffic congestion to save lives”. There are many who would object, at which point you ask them if they’ll sacrifice their children to the traffic gods or if dying is only for other people.

  • Jimmy

    I was going to ask which one is Julissa, but then I realized everyone else at the table was a man. Actually, there are very few women in that room (or at least within the photo’s frame). Just an observation… not sure what it means in this context.

  • BSPABNY

    The thought that crossed my mind when I looked at the photo was, wow DOT is spending a lot of resources on community outreach for each one of these rather modest changes to city streets. What a shame that the current administration has been beaten into submission by these clowns like Moya. It would be nice if more our our limited resources could go towards, you know, actual improvements and fewer of the dog and pony shows.

    Further, DiBalsio and company need to understand that Moya and his brethren aren’t just looking for publicity or visibility with their constituents (note that Moya didn’t even attend this meeting). These crooks clearly want some quid pro quo. But our mayor doesn’t seem to understand how the city or state work. Even if they spend crazy amounts of money on public workshops, they’re still going to have to work one-on-one with Moya to make him happy if they want to make any changes on 111th.

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