Long Island City’s Streets Need to Catch Up With a Growing Neighborhood

Jackson Avenue cuts diagonally into 11th Street right where it intersects with the Pulaski Bridge approach, a nightmare for all users. Image: Google Maps
Jackson Avenue cuts diagonally into 11th Street right where it intersects with the Pulaski Bridge approach, creating a hostile environment for walking and biking. Image: Google Maps

Long Island City is booming with new residences, and more are on the way with the massive Hunters Point South development. As the area becomes home to more people, its streets need to catch up.

On Wednesday night, Council Member Van Bramer and DOT hosted a public workshop to discuss how $8 million in capital funds can be put to use redesigning the neighborhood’s streets. About 25 Long Island City residents and businesspeople attended.

With the Queensboro Bridge, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and the Pulaski Bridge on its borders, Long Island City is overrun with more traffic than most neighborhoods. Many industrial business remain, leading to heavy truck traffic, particularly on Jackson Avenue and Vernon Boulevard. And with scant on-street parking regulations, Manhattanites have used Long Island City as a free parking lot for decades. Residents at the meeting said drivers routinely travel far above the speed limit on the neighborhood’s streets.

DOT has been studying the area since January and plans to develop a preliminary plan for the neighborhood to be presented early next year. At the workshop, attendees split into three groups and worked with DOT reps to discuss streets and intersections most in need of improvement. “We’re looking for opportunities to have the different modes have a better way to get around the neighborhood,” DOT Queens Borough Planner Samantha Dolgoff said.

LIC Residents used large maps provided by DOT to make suggestions for street improvements in the neighborhood. Photo: David Meyer
Residents pinpointed suggestions for street improvements on large maps. Photo: David Meyer

Most attendees at last night’s meeting named the Pulaski Bridge approach, Vernon Boulevard, and Jackson Avenue as their top priorities. DOT is nearly finished installing a protected bike lane on the Pulaski Bridge, but the intersection on the Queens side of the bridge is still a dangerous asphalt expanse, no matter how you get around.

Jackson Avenue, the location of MOMA P.S. 1, one of Queens’ most popular cultural attractions, has few pedestrian crossings. Jackson merges with Vernon Boulevard at its southern end, where there is a playground, pedestrian mall, and a number of retail businesses and restaurants, but workshop attendees said the area lacks safe conditions for walking, especially for families with children.

The project will also focus on adding more green to a grey landscape. One L.I.C. resident, Mary Torres, who also works as a realtor in the area, said that the neighborhood’s appearance affects both her business and quality of life. “Certain streets [in the area] are more attractive than others,” she said. “Residents of Long Island City should have a welcoming place to live.”

Van Bramer said the workshop will directly inform the city’s capital project. “Working together with the community we were able to pinpoint specific locations throughout the Long Island City/Hunters Point area where traffic safety can and will be improved using our $8 million investment into the neighborhood,” he said.

  • com63

    MoveNY will fix most of the problem by stopping people from exiting the LIE to go to the Queensboro bridge. With less traffic, the streets can be narrowed and set up to be more pedestrian oriented.

  • BBnet3000

    The bike network is super discontinuous in this area. They need to connect all these sections together with sharrows ASAP.

  • Zero Vision

    “DOT has been studying the area since January and plans to develop a preliminary plan for the neighborhood to be presented early next year.”

    Really looking forward to seeing how wide Polly Trottenberg decides to make the parking lanes.

  • rao

    “Studying the area since January.” LIC has been undergoing a residential development boom for more than 10 years now and DOT realized this in January. SMH.

  • BBnet3000

    Most of the wide parking lanes were installed while she was still in Washington.

  • Bernard Finucane

    To be fair there are quite a few things to like about this intersection compared to most intersections in NYC. The curbs push deep into the intersection to reduce turn radii, there are bollards in key places, and the lanes are fairly clearly defined even where they are turn lanes. There are still diagonal stop lines.

    But the intersection is too complicated. I’d say shut down 48th Ave. at 11th St. Shut down 11st St between 48th and reroute it through where the triangle now is. 49th needs a huge bulbout at 11th St. Bend the exit ramp from the Pulaski bridge to be more perpendicular to Jackson Ave and remove the slip lane.

  • Joe R.

    Intersections like this are tailor-made for roundabouts. I can’t see any other solution being reasonable for complex intersections like these. NYC tries to use ridiculously complex signal patterns which result in very long red light cycles. A roundabout is so much easier. Yield to peds and vehicles before entering the roundabout, then exit the roundabout when you reach the street and direction you’re going.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Good point, but I wonder what that would look like in detail. I guess it would be more oblong than round.

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