DOT Commish Takes Heat At Local Meet
Rockaway has major issues with the Department of Transportation, and residents last Thursday came face-to-face with the agency's Queens commissioner and gave her that message.
The meeting drew more than 25 people to the office of Democratic District Leader Lew M. Simon where people sat shoulder-to-shoulder in the small space armed with complaints in areas spanning from Breezy Point to the Nassau County Border. DOT Queens Commissioner Constance Moran stood in a tiny space between Simon's desk and a wall and kept her pen and yellow notepad busy as she wrote down problems and locations.
The premier issue: Parking on Beach 116 Street. Moran described the reconfiguration as work in progress and said there is still some trial-and-error work to be done. She said modifications, including marking individual parking spots and asking the Department of Sanitation to change the time period when parking is prohibited for street cleaning, remain under consideration. People also complained about getting less time for your money at the meter and the signage near the loading zones.
"We need a teacher to explain these signs," said Estelle Fleischer of Beach 131 Street. She said the street has been thrust into "chaos."
Moran brought up the City Council's recent lift on Sunday parking regulations, which seems sure to heat up with increased summer traffic. Motorists can park legally from 8 p.m. Saturday until 7:30 a.m. Monday, which could make finding a parking spot on a beach day difficult.
"If you want [Sunday parking regulations] for the summer you better get started now," Moran warned.
The second major issue: Shore Front Parkway. People at the meeting said they want traffic lights in an unregulated, 20-block stretch from Beach 74 to Beach 91 Streets. That area was the scene of two deadly accidents last summer that triggered a traffic study.
"There's an awful lot of data that's being analyzed," Moran said to explain why a conclusion has not been reached yet. Moran said DOT is also thinking about narrowing parts of Shore Front Parkway in response to a request last week from Community Board 14.
Dayton apartment residents said they also want to be able to park their cars along the southernmost curb on Shore Front Parkway. Moran made noted the request and did not say anything that would make it seem impossible.
Caterine Diffley of 103-00 Shore Front Parkway came armed with photographs of the intersection of Beach 102 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard - the intersection known for the Irish Circle and intense traffic enforcement. Diffley's photos showed gaping potholes, sidewalk damage from downed power lines and the absence of pedestrian crossings where, she pointed out, many elderly residents cross on their way to the restaurant, doctor appointments or nearby St. Camillius. "We have ghosts for stop lines," she said speaking of the faded road markings.
Others brought up a full range of issues: The need for a traffic light at the intersection of Reid Avenue and Breezy Point Boulevard in Breezy Point; a "short yellow" on the light - and a red light camera - at the northern foot of the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge; signage needed at Beach 84 Street and Rockaway Freeway/Beach Channel Drive; widespread theft of DOT signage, particularly "No Parking" signs on Shore Front Parkway and on Beach 121 Street off Rockaway Beach Boulevard.
Moran encouraged anyone who knows of people removing signs to report it to the police. She also took criticism on behalf of DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall regarding Rockaway's lack of ferry service. The commissioner, who said her notebook was filling up, took a list from one west end man who documents issues along his jogging route. And she said she would investigate all of the leads.
Many of the people at the meeting were passionate about the issues close to their homes and Simon's cramped quarters kept people huddled together, but the meeting was orderly and civil.
The day after the meeting, DOT and Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked off the annual "pothole blitz." Rockaway residents can call 311 to report the pesky asphalt craters. DOT says they respond within an average of four days, but some could take as much as a month. A suggestion from Moran could yield better results: Get a confirmation number so the issue you report can be tracked if necessary.
Residents of the Rockaways showed they are ready to combat obesity in their community by joining a free, yearlong weight loss program entitled "Lite'n Up Rockaways."
The kick-off event began with a weigh-in and registration on Friday, February 10, at the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center, 67-10 Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Arverne.