DOT Aims to Create a Walkable Main Street in Downtown Far Rockaway
Sitting at the convergence of the Long Island Railroad, the A train, and multiple bus and commuter van routes, the area around Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway has the potential to be a thriving downtown for the neighborhood, but it suffers from longstanding disinvestment and its streets aren’t great for walking.
Now EDC is working with Council Member Donovan Richards and six city agencies on small business development, mixed-income housing construction, and public space and streetscape improvements. The project is complemented by post-Sandy boardwalk reconstruction at nearby Rockaway Beach. Here’s a look at what’s in store for the neighborhood’s streets.
City Hall’s new budget sets aside $9.1 million in capital funds for street improvements near Mott Avenue. Far Rockaway’s dangerous and uninviting streets are among the challenges the project will address. There were 15 severe injuries in the project area from 2010 to 2014.
DOT wants to give the downtown a “village” feel by making Mott Avenue a pedestrian-friendly main street and building out plaza space on the streets that intersect it.
Representatives from DOT laid out some ideas for the area, including pedestrianizing a slip lane at the intersection of Mott Avenue and Central Avenue, to the Queens Community Board 14 transportation committee on January 6 [PDF]. DOT and DDC are already enhancing a plaza between Beach 20th Street and Beach 21st Street, and plan to work with DEP to install trees and plants that will double as flood protection.
The proposal to pedestrianize the slip lane encountered some opposition from transportation committee members because it would repurpose some parking, reports the neighborhood newspaper. DOT’s Erin Maciel countered that people who live in Far Rockaway are much less likely to have access to a vehicle than residents on the western end of the peninsula.
According to a DOT spokesperson, enhancing the transit hub is also a “key component” of the effort, which is linked to the city’s federally funded “Access to Opportunity” project coordinating transit and housing in the eastern Rockaways.