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Jackson Heights Leaders Outraged by DOT’s Roosevelt Avenue Pilot Plan

Roosevelt/90th Street (file photo)

April 18, 2018 By Christian Murray

The Department of Transportation is facing heavy criticism from business leaders, Community Board 4 and Councilmember Francisco Moya over the implementation and results of its Roosevelt Avenue ‘Clear Curbs’ program.

The program, which started March 19, prohibits cars and delivery trucks from standing on both sides of Roosevelt Avenue—between Broadway and 90th Street–during rush hour periods.  The restrictions take place from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and aim to limit congestion and help move traffic at a faster pace.

The program is a “pilot” with the DOT assessing its impact in six months.

But business leaders and community representatives have already made an assessment—the plan’s a dud. They claim that it has hurt business and that its implementation caught business owners by surprise.  For example, many business owners learned about the program from seeing vehicles being towed, they said.

Residents who live on streets near Roosevelt Avenue are also upset by increased traffic.

“I continually hear from local business owners and residents who are outraged over Clear Curbs,” said Councilmember Francisco Moya in a statement. “The parking ban is flooding the residential side-streets in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst with cars and trucks—which creates new traffic hazards.”

Leslie Ramos, the executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership, said that the business community is strongly opposed to it and a survey her organization is conducting proves it.

“We have already spoken to at least 50 businesses as part of the survey, and they all oppose it except for one,” Ramos said. “Most say that sales have declined—and it’s not just restaurants and retailers saying that…but lawyers and insurance people.”

She said that business owners are complaining that their customers are unable to park, time-sensitive deliveries can’t be made and that employees who live elsewhere struggle to find parking.

Moya also viewed the program as bad for business. “It’s disrupting deliveries and killing foot-traffic during peak hours.”

Moya claimed that the DOT also did a poor job notifying and consulting the public as to its plan.

“At no point did the DOT manage the Clear Curbs rollout appropriately or respectfully,” he said. “From the beginning, it was obvious to me and the community that this initiative was going to hurt the area.”

The DOT, however, claims that it did provide adequate public notification.

The agency said it held briefings with officials and stakeholders in December to let them know about the program, and then attended a joint CB3/CB4 Transportation Committee meeting on Jan. 17 to discuss the pilot and get feedback.

The DOT said that the Queens Borough Commissioner’s office contacted several elected officials on Jan. 26 via phone and e-mail to solicit feedback.

The DOT also said it sent out “street ambassadors” who canvassed the neighborhood along Roosevelt Avenue for the first two weeks of March—prior to the March 19 implementation.  The ambassadors “distributed fliers door-to-door about the program to businesses, as well as solicited their feedback,” according to the DOT. “During this outreach DOT did receive some positive feedback from several businesses about the pilot.”

“The DOT also met with concerned BIDS—including the 82nd Street BID—on March 13 and presented the pilot initiative to Community Board 3’s full board on March 15th at which CB4’s District Manager was in attendance.”

Christian Cassagnol, district manager of CB4, acknowledged that the DOT spoke at the Transportation Committee meeting in January but said most knew nothing about the program until the week before its implementation.

Cassagnol also said that the DOT never did a proper survey of the businesses. “It’s only now that a proper survey is being done,” he said, and it is being done by the 82nd Street Partnership.

Cassagnol said the DOT should have done a proper survey before the plan was implemented. Furthermore, he said, the DOT never provided any data or studies indicating there was a need for the program in the first place.

CB4 condemned the plan in a strongly worded letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio. It read, in part, that “members or our board voted to express our vehement opposition to the irresponsible decisions that led to the implementation of the Clear Curb Initiative along Roosevelt Avenue.”

The letter said that “this initiative is unfairly targeted at the struggling immigrant communities of Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst with little to no regard to our commercial constituency.”

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17 Comments

Kat

The no car parking rule may lead people to use more public transportation since it is faster and reduce the amount of waste contamination no? It is a step to reducing gas emissions and can adjust people’s waste conscienceness. We just have to be aware of this and think in regards to the air quality in our community as well. I would take the bus all the time in jackson heights and it was a hell making it to the train on time. I understand every commuter’s struggle and they should also be considered. The ban should offer temporary parking only for truck during certain times at least so business can work. Either that or have business schedule deliveries during non busy times which should already be something implemented by community members who have businesses there and are thinking about their environment. The city planners also should have notified before hand to have everyone prepared of these changes




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Howard

The idea that there be truck only parking for deliveries during specific hours is a great idea.




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Tom Rorb

A few days after the pilot went in, I had by far the fastest bus ride from 34th/82nd Street to 74th transit center. I mean, it was amazing. Of course it is all about parking for all these people. Did you guys even talk to ONE bus rider for your article? Has Moya ever even ridden a bus on this stretch? And the faster commutes are, the more likely bus riders are stop and shop since it is faster along the route.

Personally, I would just like to see car parking banned most times of days on Roosevelt. We do need deliveries, so maybe just let trucks and delivery vans use the curb side. That would be a solution.




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Daniel Lafave

Define “locals”. People who take the Q33 and Q32 live in Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst.




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SuperWittySmitty

The vast majority of the residents who live in this nabe do NOT own a car and use public transportation (and their legs) to get around.




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Daniel Lafave

Apparently no one who writes for Jackson Heights Post either takes the bus or bothered to even consider the impact on bus riders. Sad. Apparently shop owners are the only people who count.




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Roger

Thank you! Why does everyone assume that business owners are the only ones who should have any input into decisions that affect quality of life in a neighborhood? Other people, who also vote, have to use these streets – they are not for commerce only. Some of us have to pick up our kids after work and rely on the Q33 bus to get us there on time. The double-parking makes this commute a stressful nightmare.

Not only that but it is intellectually dishonest to state that this change contravenes Vision Zero. We all know that double-parked vehicles force drivers to swerve around them, turning a street into a pedestrian hazard and vehicular nightmare. Wait for the statistics to come in. But let’s be honest – some business owners could care less if the street outside their door is a deadly obstacle course, as long as the chaos delivers customers to their door.

Francisco Moya, Melinda Katz, by signing your name to this letter you’ve lost my vote. Instead I’ll be supporting leaders who understand that public streets are for getting from point A to point B safely, as well as for commercial activity.




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Howard

Roosevelt Ave is a mess in regards to traffic and doubled parked cars all day long, not just during rush hours. Why should a bus on Roosevelt Ave take ten minutes to go one block on Roosevelt Ave (because of double parking)? The congestion increases the amount of air pollutants and, in my book, that alone is a reason to stop the double parking. Why cannot delivery trucks operate prior to 7 am or after 7 pm?




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John Gillooly

Good luck getting that reversed Czar Trottenberg never rescinds any implemented plans when they are harmful to small businesses. Ask the folks in Rego Park they will tell you. The Transportation Alliance folks rule the roost.




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SuperWittySmitty

Vehicles that are double-parked on Roosevelt are a BIG problem, even more so during rush hour. I remember Mayor Dinkins trying to deal with this- he made trucks turn onto side streets to make deliveries. That makes sense to me.




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yourneighbor

Still a big chunk of the day for deliveries to be made and I doubt anybody is getting a ticket if they are actively loading or unloading for 10 minutes.

Is this really impacting shoppers or is it impacting store owners who like to drive in from the suburbs and park on Roosevelt Ave all day for not much $ ?




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Tic-Tac

The Mayor & DOT should focus on the dangerous divers ( drunk drivers , distracted drivers and those wannabe “street racers”)
Leave the workers alone , the quicker they finish the quicker they’ll get out the way.




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