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Wider Sidewalks Coming to Flushing’s Crowded Main Street

Pedestrians crossing Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer
Foot traffic on Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer
Pedestrians crossing Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Main Street in Flushing gets more foot traffic than anywhere else in New York after Times Square, but its sidewalks are too narrow to handle all those people. So later this month, the city will begin expanding the sidewalks on four blocks of Main Street, Council Member Peter Koo, DOT, and the Department of Design and Construction announced this afternoon.

Set to begin next Monday, the project will also add a one-block bus lane and high-visibility crosswalks, part of a bottom-up reconstruction of Main Street between 37th Avenue and 40th Road.

This section of Main Street is located at the convergence of the 7 train, the Long Island Railroad, 13 MTA bus routes, and many private bus lines. At any given point in the day, the sidewalks are overflowing with commuters and shoppers, 83 percent of whom arrive by foot or transit, according to DOT.

Council Member Peter Koo (center) spoke this afternoon alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer
Council Member Peter Koo (center) with DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer
Council Member Peter Koo (center) spoke this afternoon alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Downtown Flushing's streets are designed primarily to move motor vehicles, however, and people walking on Main Street have to contend with heavy car traffic. In 2015 alone, 28 pedestrians were injured and two were killed along the .9-mile stretch of Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Elder Avenue, according to Vision Zero View.

The $7.8 million reconstruction project will add between two and eight feet of sidewalk space, depending on the location, building on a 2011 project that used paint and flexible bollards to narrow the roadway and expand space for pedestrians. That project led to an 11 percent decline in traffic injuries, according to DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Casting the wider sidewalks in concrete, she said, will "deliver on Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero goals."

The project also includes a one-block bus lane on the east side of Main Street between Roosevelt Avenue and 40th Road. That block will also also be getting about seven feet of additional sidewalk on either side, more than any other part of the corridor.

Set to begin next week, DOT and DDC's reconstruction of Flushing's Main Street will bring wider sidewalks to one of the city's busiest pedestrian corridors. Image: DOT
Where the sidewalk will be widened on Main Street, one of the city's busiest pedestrian corridors. Image: DOT/DDC
Set to begin next week, DOT and DDC's reconstruction of Flushing's Main Street will bring wider sidewalks to one of the city's busiest pedestrian corridors. Image: DOT

Last year, drivers killed pedestrians where Main Street crosses with Maple Avenue and Kissena Boulevard. While neither intersection is included in this project, Garcia said DOT is currently building out a new concrete pedestrian island at Kissena Boulevard.

Underground utility work on the corridor begins next Monday, and the project is expected to be completed in about one year. While construction will only take place at night, it will result in a narrower roadway at all times. DOT is considering limiting southbound access through the project area to buses, emergency vehicles and local deliveries once the repaving of parallel Prince Street finishes up at the end of the summer.

Speaking at today's announcement, Koo said that pedestrian safety is the "most important" part of the project. "After the reconstruction, we believe Main Street will become a vibrant sidewalk, which will meet current demand and attract more foot traffic, [and] bring more potential customers to local businesses," Koo said. "A better street means better business."

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