Tish James and Queens Pols to DOT: Finish Strong on Woodhaven BRT

tish_donovan_jvb
Public Advocate Tish James with City Council members Donovan Richards and Jimmy Van Bramer on the steps of City Hall this morning. Photo: David Meyer

Public Advocate Letitia James joined Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Council Member Donovan Richards, and Queens transit activists on the steps of City Hall this morning to push the de Blasio administration to follow through on its plans for better bus service along Woodhaven Boulevard.

Earlier this year, DOT presented plans for bus lanes and pedestrian safety improvements along 14 miles of Woodhaven Boulevard and Cross Bay Boulevard [PDF], from Jackson Heights to the Rockaways. The project would speed up the Q52 and Q53, which serve 30,000 passengers each weekday but currently spend just 57 percent of the time in motion. New pedestrian islands and medians are also expected to reduce injuries on one of the deadliest streets in the city.

The rally comes at an important moment. While Richards and several other council members have called for full-fledged Bus Rapid Transit on Woodhaven Boulevard, the reallocation of street space from cars to buses is encountering some resistance in the neighborhood of Woodhaven.

With capital construction not set to begin until 2017, the implementation process is going to last at least two more years. The rally was a reminder that support for overhauling Woodhaven Boulevard runs deep, sending a message that DOT and City Hall shouldn’t buckle to pressure to water down the project. The BRT for NYC Coalition has now collected 7,000 signatures in favor of it.

For sections of Woodhaven and the Rockaways where high poverty rates couple with long commute times, said Richards, the project “is a transit equity issue.”

“It’s unfair that we’re still fighting for BRT in our areas when we need it so much,” Woodhaven resident Stephanie Veras told the crowd.

James said she’s familiar with the fear of changing a street, which she encountered when she was a council member and Select Bus Service rolled out on the B44. “It’s really an education process,” she said. “It’s about responding to these individuals who have concerns.”

After the rally, Veras said that process shouldn’t obstruct making much-needed transit improvements. “People are reluctant to change — it’s human,” she said. “We have to keep pushing. The biggest challenge is car riders who don’t want BRT.”

The concept for bus lanes and median islands along Woodhaven Boulevard. Image: NYC DOT

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

The 2015 NYC Streetsies, Part 2

|
The Streetsies just won’t quit. Yesterday’s awards were about projects. Today we’re focusing on people and politics. Stay tuned for the final batch tomorrow, and don’t forget you’re running out of time to make a year-end donation to Streetsblog, which enters you to win a new Tern Link D8 folding bike. Elected Officials of the […]

A 90-Second Appeal to Fix Woodhaven Boulevard With BRT

|
The BRT for NYC coalition recently released this short video that succinctly makes the case for change on Woodhaven Boulevard in southeast Queens. If you haven’t personally experienced Woodhaven as a pedestrian or bus rider, it’s a good introduction to what’s at stake as NYC DOT and the MTA move forward with a project to […]

This Week: Final Two Woodhaven-Cross Bay SBS Workshops

|
It’s a big week for bus planning, with an update on Utica Avenue Select Bus Service and opportunities to weigh in on SBS plans for Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards on tap. Also: check out plans for the Prospect Heights Slow zOne and offer your input on how to improve Mosholu Parkway. Here are the highlights. […]

Total L.I.C. Street Rebuild to Include Safety Overhauls for Key Intersections

|
The streets of Long Island City are getting a total rebuild, and as part of the project four major intersections along Jackson Avenue and Vernon Boulevard will get redesigned for greater safety. Many other intersections could get curb extensions or other traffic-calming treatments as part of the $38.47 million neighborhood-wide street reconstruction. Speaking this morning at the foot […]