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Francisco Moya’s 111th Street Proposals Are Going Nowhere

Assembly Member Francisco Moya was in no rush to let his constituents know about the town hall meeting he ran at St. Leo's Parish on Monday evening about the proposed redesign of 111th Street in Corona. No wonder: The event was an elaborate ploy to stop a street safety project that neighborhood advocates have worked long and hard to bring to fruition.

Assembly Member Francisco Moya. Photo: NY Assembly
Assembly Member Francisco Moya. Photo: NY Assembly
Assembly Member Francisco Moya. Photo: NY Assembly

Recognizing that 111th Street's highway-like design creates a barrier between the neighborhood and Flushing Meadows Corona Park, last year the Queens Museum, Immigrant Movement International, Make the Road New York, and Transportation Alternatives got the ball rolling on a safer 111th Street. The campaign garnered the support of Council Member Julissa Ferreras, who allocated $2.7 million in discretionary capital funds for the redesign of 111th Street. This year DOT proposed narrowing crossing distances for pedestrians while adding a two-way protected bike lane and curbside car parking.

Moya has led the opposition to the plan, consistently citing his desire to maintain all the car lanes on 111th Street to accommodate traffic to large events at Citi Field and the U.S. Open. Monday was no different in that regard. "We know that whenever there’s a Mets game, U.S. Open, or any one of these, we know we hit a lot of traffic," Moya said. "No parking, side streets become an issue, people park in the driveways; we hear a lot of the complaints."

While Ferraras held two public workshops this summer where local residents weighed in on what they want from 111th Street, Moya's event was more of a one-man show.

The Assembly member presented "alternatives" that include a bike path in some form. What they don't include are feasible steps to make 111th Street less of a highway and more of a neighborhood street where people can safely walk and bike. (Ironically, while Moya complained about the parking crunch on game days, none of his plans would add any -- only DOT's would.)

"None of Moya’s proposals address the fact that there are too many lanes on 111th Street, which encourages speeding and causes crashes," said Jaime Moncayo, Queens organizer for Transportation Alternatives.

Moya's first proposal would simply route cyclists heading toward Forest Hills through Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, entering at the New York Hall of Science and exiting through Corona Avenue. It does nothing to address neighborhood residents' concerns about speeding and dangerous conditions on 111th Street.

The second would squeeze a two-way bike lane into the center median. In addition to putting cyclists in conflict with any people who happen to be standing on the median as they cross the street, this idea also does nothing to calm traffic by narrowing the roadway of 111th Street.

Moya's third proposal would replace sidewalk space on the park side of the street with a two-way bike lane on the sidewalk. While this would offer cyclists some protection from cars, this too would do nothing to calm traffic on 111th Street and make it easier for pedestrians or cyclists to cross.

"While Francisco Moya came up with alternatives, they still do not go far enough to address the issue of safety for pedestrians and cyclists," said Yi-Ling Tan of Queens Bike Initiative. "111th Street in its current incarnation is too wide and too dangerous."

Of course, when you want to stop a street redesign project from happening, it doesn't matter if your counterproposals have any merit. All that matters is that the redesign doesn't happen.

Toward that end, Moya complained Monday that the DOT's proposal had been made without sufficient consultation with members of the community. That trivializes the contribution of local organizations that have worked with residents since last year to make the street safer.

“It’s really frustrating for Moya to say there’s been no community consideration, when groups such as Make Queens Safer and Make the Road have put substantial effort into working with community members to address the issue of street safety," said Moncayo.

Despite the neighborhood support for a street overhaul and the backing of Ferreras, NYC DOT has yet to commit to implementing the 111th Street plan. DOT will revisit Community Board 4 on November 10th.

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