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NYPD U.S. Open Security Plan Closes Key Route Linking Corona and Flushing

Meridian Road serves as a bike commuting link through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo: @MakeQueensSafer
Meridian Road serves as a bicycling link through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo: @MakeQueensSafer
Meridian Road serves as a bike commuting link through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo: @MakeQueensSafer

As part of its security plan for this year's U.S. Open, NYPD is blocking public access to a road that runs through Flushing Meadows Corona Park, cutting off one of the few local street connections between Corona and Flushing.

Meridian Road loops around the section of the park that’s bordered on three sides by the Grand Central Parkway and the Long Island Expressway. Signs posted for the U.S. Open say the east-west section of the road on the north side of the park won't open again until September 17 -- several days after play is scheduled to end this Sunday. For cyclists, that section is a much less stressful link between Corona and Flushing than the other nearby option, Roosevelt Avenue.

The road blockage was coordinated between NYPD and the U.S. Tennis Association, according to the Times Ledger. The Queens Museum was forced to close last Saturday for the duration of the tournament because, the paper reported, "The parking lots on either side of the museum are being used as a staging area for the NYPD and the plaza in front on Meridian Road is being used as a checkpoint where police officers inspect cars bringing fans to matches."

"Our concern is it's a big commuter road," said Cristina Furlong of Make Queens Safer. Photos posted on Twitter by Make Queens Safer show cyclists and people on foot being redirected or blocked by police barricades. Meanwhile, park green spaces have been taken over for tournament parking.

An NYPD van blocks a bridge on Meridian Road. Photo: Rich Furlong
An NYPD van blocks a bridge on Meridian Road. Photo: Rich Furlong
An NYPD van blocks a bridge on Meridian Road, which serves as a bike commuting link through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo: Rich Furlong

On Monday a cyclist was killed by a motorist on the Grand Central Parkway at a location not far from the park, according to NYPD. Make Queens Safer wondered if the victim might have unintentionally ended up on the highway after trying to access Meridian Road.

Despite the scarcity of east-west streets in the surrounding area, "Flushing Meadows is not designated as a bike route on the city bike map, which is pretty crazy," Furlong told Streetsblog. "There's no bike markings anywhere, so the DOT or NYPD can say, 'None of it's a bike route to begin with.'"

This year's tournament is the first U.S. Open since the USTA began expanding the tennis compound, a project set to wrap in 2018.

"It's not working well for park users," says Furlong. "Fields are closed for parking now."

Once there were green fields. Now it's U.S. Open spectator parking. Photo: Rich Furlong
Once there were green fields. Now it's U.S. Open spectator parking. Photo: Rich Furlong
Once there were green fields. Now it's U.S. Open spectator parking. Photo: Rich Furlong

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