DOT Compromises 111th Street Redesign to Win Francisco Moya’s Support

DOT's updated 111th Street plan (top) maintains two-way southbound traffic flow and omit the new crosswalks included in the original plan (below). Images: DOT
DOT’s updated 111th Street plan (top) maintains two lanes of southbound car traffic and omits crosswalks included in the original plan (below). Images: DOT

DOT has released a watered-down version of its redesign for 111th Street in Corona. The compromise has won over Assembly Member Francisco Moya, who had withheld his support for the original plan, saying 111th Street needed to retain more car lanes.

moya
Assembly Member Francisco Moya. Photo: NY Assembly

The new design will not be as safe to cross as the original proposal. Instead of one southbound moving lane, the compromise plan calls for two southbound lanes. It does not include four painted crosswalks in the original plan. The new design maintains the two-way protected bike lane along Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Currently, 111th Street has two northbound and three southbound car lanes, leading to high traffic speeds. From 2010 to 2014, 23 pedestrians, 24 cyclists, and 92 motor vehicle occupants were injured on 111th Street, and the main goal of the project is to provide safer access to the park for people walking and biking from nearby neighborhoods. The compromise design will improve on the status quo but won’t be as safe as DOT’s original plan.

Moya staked his opposition on the argument that there’s too much traffic on 111th Street to narrow it, particularly during sporting events at nearby Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium. But a DOT analysis concluded that the street could handle current traffic volumes with only one lane in each direction, and volunteers shot video during last October’s World Series games confirming that there just isn’t much traffic, even during huge events.

The coalition of advocates and community groups that supported the original plan is backing DOT’s compromise plan, as are Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Queens Democratic Party Chair Joe Crowley.

Earlier this month, Ferreras-Copeland, who set aside $2.7 million for the plan two years ago, led a rally on the steps of City Hall to demand Mayor de Blasio move forward with the plan, frustrated by the lack of action. Her spokesperson Lillian Zepeda told Streetsblog that Ferreras-Copeland would “definitely continue to fight for” more crosswalks along the corridor.

DOT still plans to present the new proposal to Community Board 4, which failed to advance the previous version. Mayor de Blasio can move forward with the plan regardless, as he did when CB 4 rejected phase two of DOT’s Queens Boulevard redesign earlier this year.

Although the compromises to satisfy Moya will weaken the plan, advocates who have pushed for a safer 111th Street for two years celebrated the news that the project will move forward. “These changes are about our children having a better future and about us, as women and as mothers, having the right to feel protected as we move through our streets and into our park,” said Veronica Ramirez and Valeria Librada of the Mujeres en Movimiento Collective. “This was more than a safety campaign for us, this was a political education about being at the table for the changes that are possible in our communities.”

  • mattkime

    how may parking spaces were saved by withholding crosswalks? the diagram appears to indicate “zero”

  • Ben_Kintisch

    Yes the compromise about retaining a moving traffic lane is not ideal but sort of makes sense if that’s what it takes to move this forward. A park access project that contains no crosswalks just makes no sense!

  • kevd

    Two lanes?
    Okay, whatever.
    But NO CROSSWALKS?
    Yeah, because the worst thing is when people can safely walk to a park…..

  • Jeff

    Believe it or not, this wasn’t an effort to save parking. DOT’s guidelines simply don’t allow for uncontrolled crosswalks across multiple lanes of traffic (in the same direction).

  • Simon Phearson

    Aren’t they legally crosswalks, though?

    I don’t understand why they would make it a policy not to paint crosswalks where people can, do, and should cross.

  • kevd

    So they should be controlled, then.

  • Jeff

    I think we’re a long way off from getting motorists to respect unmarked crosswalks. They’ll reluctantly stop for a marked crosswalk if you assert yourself and make eye-contact, but they will violently lash out at you if you even consider making use of an unmarked crosswalk.

  • Simon Phearson

    I made the mistake of blocking car traffic (while cycling) in order to allow a crowd of pedestrians to cross at an uncontrolled, unmarked crosswalk in Williamsburg, once. Got an earful from the driver behind me; once they crossed, I hung back so he couldn’t do anything like run me off the road.

  • Emmily_Litella

    On Austin Street in Forest Hills there are three stop signs in a row to accommodate three crosswalks into a playground at 76th Ave. Stop signs were rejected on 111th St because?

  • Frank Kotter

    An I missing something here? both ends of 111 are one lane but by the park it balloons to 5? Ok, Three lanes will be better but where is justification for keeping this stretch so incredibly wide? How does this street assist the movement of cars during these event?

    Ok for U.S. Open the parks are overflow parking but I doubt this adds much in the way of extra lane demand. Event at Citi Field has absolute no bearing on traffic flow on 111.

  • HamTech87

    At least he is an elected official who can face the voters, not an unaccountable community board member.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Why isn’t there a crosswalk proposed on the single lane side?

  • c2check

    Or plop a refuge island between the two southbound lanes.
    Silliness.

  • BrandonWC

    They are not actually legally crosswalks. At T intersections, crossing the through street is only a legal unmarked crosswalk if the through street is controlled by traffic lights or stop signs.

  • Simon Phearson

    Double-checking, it looks like you’re right. So the DOT policy of not painting crosswalks across two lanes of uncontrolled traffic effectively means that the only legal crosswalks across 111th Street, for a project designed to protected pedestrians, will be at 50th and 52nd Avenues.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Wow that’s an awful law.

  • Need Crosswalks

    Looks like we can thank Moya for removing the most needed part of this plan – crosswalks. Shame on him. As a bicyclist I considered this even more important than the bike path. It’s amazing how this guy can be a public official.

  • van_vlissingen

    They can still calm traffic in a successive round of safety improvements by turning the southbound median side parking into angle parking. That truly sucks but it’s better than being stuck where we’ve been for the last 2 years

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Theoretically, but a scary amount of NYC elections are run uncontested.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    So why are the pedestrian islands still in the plan?

  • BrandonWC

    Yup. It’s dumb.

  • SSkate

    So I’m looking at the revised plan and being entirely cynical find myself thinking… God forbid someone gets run down at that location, but if they do, NYPD will blame the pedestrian because they were crossing outside the marked crosswalk.

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