2004-12-24 / Editorial/Opinion

Closing Rockaway Freeway A Plus For Rockaway

A four-block section of the Rockaway Freeway will soon be closed to make way for parking necessary due to the Arverne By The Sea (ABTS) project, which will eventually bring thousands of new people and hundreds of new automobiles to the peninsula. For many years, the Freeway was the most dangerous road on the peninsula, perhaps the most dangerous stretch of road in Queens. Many parents told their young drivers to stay away from the Freeway, that driving under the elevated structure would result in a parental revocation of their driving license. On dozens of occasions over the years, Wave reporters and photographers were called to the scene of horrendous accidents resulting in flattened sheet metal and twisted, mutilated bodies. Most of the worst accidents ended a few years ago, when the divided roadway was restricted to one lane in each direction and turns onto other Rockaway streets from the Freeway were restricted. There were still many accidents, however, a result of drivers who tried to pass in the second lane or who made turns where none were allowed. The road remains dangerous. That’s why there was little comment made when the original ABTS plan included closing the Freeway and turning it into much-needed parking spaces. Now that the closure has begun, however, opposition is growing to the plan from those who believe that Rockaway needs the east-west road in case of emergency. We don’t believe that the road is necessary to Rockaway’s health. There are a number of other east-west roads that can carry emergency traffic – notably Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Edgemere Avenue. In addition, the ABTS plan calls for a widening of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and an extension of Shore Front Parkway eastward from Beach 73 Street, just as Robert Moses envisioned it all those years ago. The Freeway remains a dangerous road. Closing it down to make parking for beachgoers as well as residents in ABTS is a good idea. For a change, the city has come up with a plan that is a plus for Rockaway.

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