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

4:28 PM EDT on July 1, 2015

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.
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.

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