Joe Addabbo Tells Voters to Fight Bus Lanes on Street Where He Drives Daily

The overhaul of Woodhaven Boulevard in southeast Queens promises to make buses faster and more reliable while preventing injuries and deaths on one of the most dangerous streets in the city. Naturally, State Senator Joseph Addabbo is mobilizing constituents to oppose the project and keep Woodhaven the way it is.

Joe Addabbo, Jr.

Addabbo has been agitating against the project most of the year, writing in the Queens Chronicle this April that “[r]ush-hour traffic would suffer significantly and, as someone who sits on that roadway every day during those times, I shudder to think it could get worse.”

In an email to constituents yesterday, Addabbo rattled off the typical litany of horrors you hear any time the city proposes repurposing street space from cars to other modes of travel: intolerable congestion, traffic diverted to other streets, plummeting sales for local business, and, somehow, even more danger for people on foot.

Woodhaven Boulevard and Cross Bay Boulevard have such a high rate of traffic injuries and fatalities because the current design is geared only toward moving as many cars as possible. On some stretches, the street is wider than 150 feet. As a result, speeding is rampant and people get hurt on a daily basis. From July 2012 to December 2014, eight people were killed in crashes along the proposed BRT route, and 1,432 were injured, according to city stats compiled by Transportation Alternatives.

The Woodhaven BRT design concept calls for pedestrian islands to shorten crossing distances. The reduction in general traffic lanes and left turns to make room for dedicated bus lanes, spun as a negative by Addabbo, is expected to yield substantial safety benefits, as fewer drivers weave dangerously across lanes and try to shoot through gaps in oncoming traffic to turn left.

For the 30,000 passengers who ride the bus on Woodhaven and Cross Bay daily, trips are projected to get 25 to 35 percent faster, according to DOT and the MTA. Prior experience with SBS projects suggests this will be good for local businesses. On Fordham Road in the Bronx, bus ridership increased 10 percent and retail sales shot up 71 percent after the implementation of SBS.

In opposing the Woodhaven project, Addabbo is bucking the political consensus on the City Council. Earlier this year, seven council members called on DOT and the MTA to consider “full-featured BRT” on Woodhaven and Cross Bay. Among the signatories was Eric Ulrich, who holds the council seat that Addabbo vacated.

DOT and the MTA have been hosting workshops about the project since last year and will be launching a fresh round of public meetings this fall. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in 2017.

Here’s the full message from Addabbo’s office telling his constituents to oppose the project:

ADDABBO URGES RESIDENTS TO SUBMIT COMMENTS ON SBS PROPOSAL

Howard Beach, NY (November 2, 2015) As the city Department of Transportation (DOT) prepares to hold a series of town hall meetings regarding its proposal to bring Select Bus Service (SBS) to Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard, Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. is reminding residents of the importance of attending the meetings and submitting input about the project.

After much opposition to the proposal from the public and elected officials, DOT is set to begin holding public meetings this fall to collect comments about the SBS plan, which currently seeks to remove a lane of traffic from Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard in both directions in order to create a ‘Bus Only’ lane for the Q52 and Q53 routes and place pedestrians waiting for a bus on the median. The Senator contends that this plan would ultimately add unnecessary congestion to a main thoroughfare that is already extremely overcrowded and would place pedestrians at serious risk, as they would be forced to cross an active roadway in a limited time in order to board the bus from the median.

“Long after DOT has decided whether to implement this plan in our neighborhoods and move on, we are left behind to deal with the outcome, whether it be good or bad,” said Addabbo. “It is crucial that we help the agency make an informed decision by providing as much input as possible before any plans are set in stone. You may think your opinion does not matter, but in this case, it could not be more important. I encourage all my constituents to take advantage of these town hall meetings, contact DOT and submit your questions and concerns while you still have the chance.”

Since the proposal was first announced, Addabbo has raised several concerns about the project with city officials, even organizing a bus tour of the route with DOT and MTA staff in August to show them first-hand some of the major problems that would be brought about by the proposed changes. The Senator has continuously encouraged both residents and city agencies to consider the interest of five key categories that would be affected by the implementation of SBS: bus riders, car drivers, pedestrians, local businesses, and residential side streets.

“This plan would affect more than just the straphangers who ride the buses or the motorists who drive behind them,” Addabbo said. “It would put pedestrians in harm’s way by moving bus stops to medians along an extremely busy Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard. The removal of left turns onto major commercial roadways, such as Jamaica and Liberty Avenues, would hinder the success of local businesses located on these streets as drivers would no longer be able to access them easily. Residential streets would become busier than ever as drivers — including delivery trucks — begin to use side streets to avoid the increased congestion on the main road as a result of removing a lane of traffic. This plan would have consequences to everyone in the community, and it is important that we voice our concerns immediately.”

Addabbo intends to inform the residents of when the DOT town hall meetings will take place as soon as the dates become available. In the meantime, the Senator is encouraging residents to frequently check DOT’s website for information about the SBS proposal.

  • BBnet3000

    Notice the inherent assumption in his writing that implies that anyone currently driving would continue to do so forever and never consider taking the faster bus. As if someone has the lifelong identity of driver or bus rider.

    The idea that more traffic will end up on side streets is probably wrong but totally solvable anyway; I’ve been saying we should remove through-traffic from side streets for quite a long time now. It’s too bad DOT is unwilling to touch this idea.

    This is the guy whose namesake bridge is a dangerous and threatening place for anyone brave enough to bike: you’re stuck up against a jersey barrier with traffic screaming past you at 60mph+ and only a worn-away painted buffer between. Maybe he should focus his energies on improving this legacy rather than being remembered as one of the voices fighting for dangerous 1950s road design.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Construction is currently scheduled to begin in 2017.”

    Better if it happened only after folks like this were voted out. “Southeast Queens doesn’t want transit improvements, because Southeast Queens transit riders don’t count. By re-electing Addabbo, the voters have spoken.”

    That’s the only way we got the bus lanes on 125th Street. By canceling them. As it is, there is no accountability.

  • Cheers, Ben. Good post.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    the dark Side is too strong with this one

  • ThereIveSaidIt

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he was one of those idiots who posts “I bet she was looking at her phone” comments under every story about a pedestrian death.

  • AndreL

    Bus projects kinda deserve to be shot at and watered down. Rail projects (subways, light rail, monorail etc) should be proposed instead. So though they guy is being very self-interested, he’s doing a useful job to stop New York from shifting focus from rail (right) to buses (wrong).

  • BrooklynBus

    Addabbo is 100% correct in geting his constituents to oppose this project which will greatly worsen traffic on Woodhaven to the point where it barely moves. That is your goal anyway. Just make it impossible to drive to get everyone to get rid of their cars. You don’t care if it will now take them 90 minutes on the bus when they previously made the trip by car in 45 minutes .

    You have absolutely zero proof that SBS on Woodaven would make the road safer. Many believe that center boarding will increase pedestrian fatalities as they run to catch a bus without looking. And of course the motorist would e wrong because he wasn’t able to stop on a dime.

    You also have no proof that anyone would switch from car to bus. If that is the case, why hasn’t the MTA’s forecasting model shown that and why have they refused to share its results. Same with DOT, we have been asking for traffic data for over a year. Whete is it? You don’t spend $231 million dollars without some hard data.

    Keep repeating there are 30,000 daily bus riders and ignore the 60,000 other users of the road. Everyone counts. I hope you enjoy bringing your Chrstmas tree home on the bus.

    Addabbo is only seeking a rational dialogue. There is nothing wrong with that. All you want is to force this project through without adequate discussion. And anyone who disagrees with you, you call an idiot.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    citation that 60,000 cars Drive here daily please

  • ahwr
  • Alexander Vucelic

    so it seems fair that 2 lanes are devoted to buses (15,000 per lane)

    and 6 lanes devoted to cars (10,000 per lane)

  • bolwerk

    Why care about all day anyway? The peak times are what matter for deciding capacity, and at that point there could easily be double or triple the ridership in one bus lane.

  • ahwr

    This stretch is 3 lanes + parking, not 4 lanes + parking. Bottlenecks on the corridor are 3 lanes, no parking. DOT hasn’t shown much interest in narrowing those bottlenecks to put in a bus lane, they won’t narrow it to 1 lane each way to permit a continuous bus lane and bike lane. There’s little demand for long distance biking, much more demand for short distance biking. For much less political capital than it would take to make woodhaven a long distance bike corridor you could improve cycling for short trips within each neighborhood along it and serve far more people.

    BTW cars have more than 1 person, NYMTC travel survey gives an average occupancy of 1.6 or so.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Numbers are all from DOT

    bus riders, cyclists, and pedrstrians should have same level of service that lavishly subsidized druvers do. Direct routes are one aspect of service.

    A 14 mile conplete street is a good start

  • BrooklynBus

    Because all day matters. There is absolutely no justification for bus lanes during the off-peak. Exclusive lanes will not allow the buses to travel any faster than they do now, but car trips will take twice as long which is your real goal anyway, to slow auto traffic as much as possible.

    They won’t take the SBS anyway. At the last city council hearing. A representative from Riders Alliance stated that one member uses mass transit and has a two hour commute everyday to Kings Highway in Brooklyn. With SBS she might save perhaps ten minutes. Big deal. So her trip would take her one hour and fifty minutes. The same trip by car would take 30 minutes or less. That trip may increase to an hour after SBS but would still be faster than taking the bus which is why most will still choose to drive if they have that option.

    The only way a trip like that can be improved by mass transit would veto reactivate the Rockaway Beach Line and utilizing the LIRR Bay Ridge Line for mass transit. SBS is not the answer because it doesn’t improve connections or reduce the number of transfers required.

  • bolwerk

    There is no justification for installing bus lanes during the peak and then removing them during off-peak. Both modes peak at the same time; the rest of the day there is room to spare anyway, unless an accident happens (in which case bus lanes aren’t a hindrance).

    Rockaway and Woodhaven SBS have little to do with each other.

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