Flushing Avenue Update: You’re Not Going To Like This, #BikeNYC
The long-delayed transformation of Flushing Avenue into a safe route for cyclists between Williamsburg and the Manhattan Bridge has been delayed — again — and it may not end up being as safe as promised.
The Department of Design and Construction told Streetsblog this week that the project, which was supposed to be done by the end of this year after several previous delays, will now not be done until “summer 2020” — which, given that summer runs until Sept. 21, 2020, could be almost a full year from now.
The latest delay is due to “issues with underground structures belonging to the MTA that were unknown to the designers until recently,” said agency spokesman Ian Michaels. Previously reported delays had been attributed by the agency to “utility interference” and the Department of Transportation’s insistence that a lane of car traffic in each direction be maintained throughout the construction.
Here’s what we know:
- The reconstruction of Flushing Avenue to include a two-way protected bike lane, plus other amenities, was presented to the local community board in May, 2010 — more than nine years ago.
- The same community board approved a slightly tweaked plan in October, 2013. At the time, Streetsblog rightly declared, “As the city builds out the permanent greenway, reconstructing Flushing Avenue is one of the most important capital projects — a mile-long link connecting the Manhattan Bridge approach, DUMBO, and Farragut Houses to Williamsburg Street West, Kent Avenue, and Williamsburg/Greenpoint.” Construction was set to begin in fall of 2014.
- Work was first spotted on the strip in June, 2018 — almost four years later. At the time, the DDC said the work would be completed by March 31, 2019.
- A week after that missed deadline, Streetsblog reported that the project would not be completed until December, 2019.
- With that work nowhere close to being completed, Streetsblog reached out to Michaels this week and got the latest bad news.
The good news? A crucial segment of the bike lane project — which will extend the existing completed portion between the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Washington Avenue four more blocks to Claremont Avenue — will be done by mid-November.
“In order to try to complete the project more quickly, DDC has received from DOT permission to work two extra hours per day, so work will now end at 6 p.m. instead of 4 p.m.,” Michaels said. “With these extra hours of work, we anticipate that the entire section from Washington to Claremont will be completed before the annual DOT holiday construction embargo, which will begin this year in mid-November.”
Workers are making a furious rush to complete what they can also because of the late-October opening of a massive new Wegmans supermarket inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard. That part of the project includes adding a new entrance to the Navy Yard on Flushing between North Elliot and Navy streets. The entrance does appear on the DDC’s renderings, but the Wegmans does not.
The entrance will put cyclists and pedestrians in direct conflict with thousands of turning vehicles per day. The Wegmans parking lot alone holds more than 700 cars.
A second new gate — this one on Navy Street between Flushing Avenue and Sands Street — will be permanent, a spokeswoman for Wegmans told Streetsblog. A spokeswoman for the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway the city has not given her any information about the potentially life-threatening entrance, which cuts across a key bike lane.
The DDC and DOT did not respond to a request for comment about that entrance, pictured below: