De Blasio Advances 111th Street Safety Plan: “The Right Thing to Do”

Decision comes almost two years after DOT's first public presentation.

Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland in Corona last night. Photo: NYC Mayor's Office/Flickr
Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland in Corona last night. Photo: NYC Mayor's Office/Flickr

Mayor de Blasio gave the go-ahead to DOT’s plan for a road diet, wider pedestrian medians, and a two-way protected bike lanes on 111th Street in Corona. The mayor made the announcement last night at a neighborhood town hall in response to a question from Vero Ramirez of Mujeres en Movimiento.

The mayor got a healthy round of applause from the audience when he said the project would advance. “111th Street has been a long process,” he said. “I’m comfortable that the right thing to do is move ahead with our efforts to protect people on 111th Street.”

“That’s a final decision,” he added later.

Mujeres en Movimiento and other local advocates have been campaigning for years to create safer access to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which is cut off from the neighborhood by the treacherous five-lane configuration of 111th Street.

But the DOT plan to narrow the roadway and shorten crossing distances ran into resistance from Assembly Member Francisco Moya and Queens Community Board 4, especially board member James Lisa, a Moya donor who lives on 111th Street. The city eventually watered down the project to appease Lisa and Moya, and it now includes two southbound traffic lanes instead of one while providing no marked crosswalks.

DOT's updated 111th Street plan (top) maintains two southbound traffic lanes and omits marked crosswalks included in the original plan (bottom). Images: DOT
DOT’s updated 111th Street plan (top) maintains two southbound traffic lanes and omits marked crosswalks included in the original plan (bottom). Images: DOT

The city is moving forward with the weaker design. Trottenberg said the city would “absolutely” evaluate that design after implementation and could decide to add elements of the original plan further down the line. “In the spirit of compromise, everybody gave a little bit,” she said.

Lisa didn’t hold up his end of the bargain at CB 4, however. De Blasio’s announcement came eight days after CB 4 tabled the weaker version of the redesign. The city will be spending the political capital of proceeding without the board’s stamp of approval, but won’t be getting the full safety benefits of the initial plan.

“Our community worked hard to make their voices heard and persisted alongside me for three years to demand these safety improvements,” Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who hosted last night’s town hall. “Mayor de Blasio’s announcement tonight that the implementation of Vision Zero on 111th Street will move forward is a victory for our community and will save lives.”

DOT says installation will begin by the summer.

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