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Editorial November 3, 2011  RSS feed


Panel Seeks Help To End Project Delays
by Robert Pozarycki

With the ongoing economic crisis forcing the city to delay the reconstruction of roads in southern Middle Village until the 2020 fiscal year, Community Board 5 is seeking the help of a local legislator to expedite the project, it was noted during the Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees’ Oct. 25 meeting in Glendale.

Chairperson Vincent Arcuri informed members in attendance at the board’s Glendale office that he and District Manager Gary Giordano recently met with City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley regarding the reconstruction plan, which was first suggested by the advisory body 20 years ago and has been repeatedly delayed for one reason or another.

“We explained to her the importance of this project,” Arcuri said of the plan, which involves the installation of new sewer lines, road beds sidewalks, signs and traffic lights on streets in an area generally bounded on the north by Metropolitan Avenue, on the south by Cooper Avenue and the Long Island Rail Road Montauk branch; on the east by 80th Street and on the west by 73rd Place and All Faiths Cemetery.

The city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) completed a preliminary design plan for the project, which was presented to Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees in May 2009. At that time, the project was slated to begin in the 2014 fiscal year, but the city recently pushed the start date back several more years as a result of continued budgetary constraints.

“We’ve been waiting for this for 20 years,” Arcuri told committee members, stated that he informed Crowley that “the people of southern Middle Village have been ignored and underserved” as a result of the continued delay in the reconstruction project.

Crowley agreed with the board’s stance on the project and expressed her support for expediting the work in a Oct. 24 letter to Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Robert Steel. In a copy of the correspondence provided to the Times Newsweekly, the legislator said that “with deteriorating sewers and streets, south Middle Village is in dire need for an upgrade, which will improve the quality of life. I urge the city to move this project forward so not to neglect this community any longer.”

Should the city decide to delay the southern Middle Village reconstruction project through 2020, Arcuri told committee members that he and Transportation Committee Co-Chair John Schell would work on a proposal to divide the plan into several smaller projects in order to phase in improvements over time.

“But we don’t want this effort to fail,” he said, noting that he and the board would much rather see the project move ahead as a whole and start sooner than currently projected.

In a related note, the city has also decided to delay the start of the reconstruction of the Grand Street Bridge on the Brooklyn/Queens border. Giordano told committee members that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has pushed the start date for the work back to the 2020 fiscal year; in the meantime, crews have been making minor improvements to shore up the span.

The reconstruction of Wyckoff Avenue between Flushing and Cooper avenues on the Brooklyn/Queens border in Ridgewood has also been delayed by the city until the 2020 fiscal year, Giordano added.

Other capital projects

One project that is moving forward as scheduled, the district manager said, is the reconstruction of the overpass carrying Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road over the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk branch on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border.

The project is expected to be awarded to a bidder in the spring of 2013, and work could begin as early as September of that year. Once started, the repairs are expected to take up to three years to complete.

Arcuri noted that the city DOT has decided that it would not assign any specific detours around the bridge, as both Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road will be able to remain open for the duration of the project.

Following grievances filed by the committee and individuals in Glendale, the DOT and DDC have decided to alter parts of its Cooper Avenue underpass reconstruction plan, according to Giordano.

He told panel members that the DDC has removed plans to create a traffic island in the center of Cooper Avenue and 74th Street and will scale back the installation of a similar island on 73rd Place between Cooper and Central avenues. Residents and business owners had complained that the proposed islands would aggravate congestion and make it difficult for trucks pulling into and out of nearby businesses for deliveries.

Giordano said that he and Arcuri would meet with DDC and DOT officials in November to review the revised plans. As for the remainder of the project, which includes the full rehabilitation of the retaining walls of the Cooper Avenue underpass between 74th and 79th streets, the district manager stated that work would likely begin sometime early in 2012.

The $6.7 million project is expected to take 18 months to complete, and since the work will be done “in halves,” two-way traffic will be maintained on Cooper Avenue for the duration, Arcuri said.

Freight rail

The opening of a new freight rail depot in Brookhaven, L.I., will translate into additional trains hauling construction and demolition debris into Glendale’s Fresh Pond Railyard and through freight rail lines in neighboring communities, Arcuri warned. He noted that residents should expect traffic on area lines to increase as a result of the Long Island depot and the opening of a new waste transfer station in Long Island City, where trash collected from six community board areas will be offloaded from trucks and placed into railcars for shipment out of state.

“They (the railroad companies which operate the lines) all have to get together on how to transport all this stuff,” Arcuri said, noting that the bulk of freight rail activity takes place between 11:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. on a daily basis.

Other news

Based on requests offered by members of the Yeshiva Gedolah Seminary, the panels recommended that the DOT consider installing no standing” regulations along a 100’ section of 88th Street near the entrance to the yeshiva in Glendale.

The panel also agreed to examine the potential conversion of 62nd Avenue between 80th Street and Dry Harbor Road in Middle Village from a two-way thoroughfare into a oneway road for eastbound traffic.

John Maier, co-chair of the Public Transit Committee, reported that the MTA Bus Company is “working on” installing “Guide-a-ride” signs at bus stops along the routes it operates. The guide-a-rides include a map of bus routes as well as a timetable of service.

Ted Renz, who also co-chairs the Public Transit Committee, stated that the city’s DDC is beginning the round work on developing a new public plaza on 70th Street between Myrtle and Cooper avenues in Glendale as part of the DOT’s Public Plaza Program. The project, which was initially put forth by the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation, would enhance the nearby Glendale Memorial Triangle, he noted.

The next meeting of Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees is scheduled to take place on Tuesday night, Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m. at the board’s Glendale office, located at 61-23 Myrtle Ave. For more information, call 1-718- 366-1834.