A Road that Works for All
The Second Avenue Subway was first proposed in the 1920s. The East Side Access project – bringing LIRR into Grand Central – is 14 years behind schedule. As drivers and bus riders who travel up and down Woodhaven Boulevard each day, we know a little something about delays. It is important to keep in mind when people tout the Rockaway Beach Rail Line at the expense of other public transit improvements in our neighborhoods that delays for rail projects are measured in years and, in some cases, even decades.
A recent op-ed in this paper by the Queens Public Transit Committee (QPTC) painted a misleading picture of Woodhaven Boulevard with Select Bus Service (SBS) that imagined the road worse than it is today.
In fact, the main cause for congestion on Woodhaven Boulevard is a result of the street changing from four lanes down to three or two. These bottlenecks make all of us – bus riders and drivers alike – late on a daily basis. The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plan provides for as consistent a street as possible with a service road, a median, bus lane, and two lanes of traffic in each direction. Streamlining the street set-up helps all of us.
We agree with the QPTC that the plan does divide commuters – but in the best way possible. DOT is proposing to divide commuters by providing dedicated space that allows them to get where they need to go. Buses have their lane. All other drivers have their lanes. This means we will all get where we need to go faster and safer than possible today.
While most of us consider ourselves a car driver, a public transit user, a pedestrian, or bicyclist, in reality, we use more than one of these transportation methods throughout the week. And whether we’re behind the wheel, walking, or on a bus, safety is paramount. Having witnessed too many close calls and knowing that eight people died in crashes between 2010 and 2012, it is critical that Woodhaven Boulevard not only needs to be less congested, but safer for everyone. The proposed street redesign will shorten crosstimes for pedestrians, eliminate dangerous merge points, and yes, remove some left turns, but in exchange, it will calm dangerous intersections for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
More and more of us not only live in Queens, we work or go to school in the borough we call home. For those of us who live in the Rockaway community and are dependent on public transit, that means at least one, if not more transfers – every day. The plan would extend SBS deeper into the Rockaways and give many of us a much needed one-seat ride that would truly unite the borough.
Reduced congestion, dedicated space for all street users, a safer Woodhaven, and better service for theRockaways are why we support DOT’s plan to bring SBS to the Woodhaven/ Cross Bay corridor. This is not an either or between the bus that would make intraborough travel easier and a quick, one-seat train ride to Midtown. We need a better Woodhaven Boulevard now. There’s nothing wrong with waiting for the train to arrive, but the bus is already here.