2006-05-05 / Front Page

Plan To Narrow Shore Front Pkwy

By Brian Magoolaghan

The Department of Transportation next Tuesday will unveil a plan to permanently reduce Shore Front Parkway to one traffic lane in each direction, according to a local source with contacts at the agency.

DOT Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy will outline the project for members of Community Board 14 at the boards' regular monthly meeting, according to CB14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska. But the board - and the public - may not have the chance to offer much input, he said.

Gaska learned of DOT's plan last week during a face-to-face meeting with McCarthy, he told The Wave.

"I think they're anxious to implement this," Gaska said. The project would not be subject to a public comment period or a board vote, he said.

"The way it was expressed to me is that it's a public safety issue and [DOT has] the right to implement this," said Gaska.

DOT's plan is not the only major transportation item on the bill. MTA representatives will also be on hand to outline a three-year rehabilitation project of the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge that is slated to start in the fall, according to Gaska.

The move to narrow Shore Front Parkway comes after two deadly accidents happened last year within a 20-block stretch of the roadway that has no traffic lights or stop signs. The agency has been studying traffic conditions on Shore Front Parkway - an east/west road that runs parallel to the boardwalk from Beach 74 to Beach 109 Streets - for the last nine months.

The idea of narrowing Shore Front Parkway is not foreign to members of CB14, who in February described Shore Front Parkway as a "high level" concern and asked DOT to consider exactly such a move.

"The Board has requested that your agency study the possibility of converting Shore Front Parkway to one lane in each direction," the board said in a letter to DOT that was obtained by The Wave. "The reduction in traveling lanes has worked very successfully on the Rockaway Freeway in reducing accidents and death. In the study please consider the inclusion of a bike/skating lane in a portion of the closed lane."

Gaska said the project would bring a "level of inconvenience" but he dismissed the notion that eliminating one lane in each direction could make it harder to evacuate the peninsula in the event of an emergency.

"Shore Front Parkway really isn't a road [people would use] to get out of here," he said. Still, it remains to be seen how the plan will work with other changes coming to other major Rockaway roadways: Rockaway Freeway will be decommissioned and the eastern end of Rockaway Beach Boulevard will be widened as part of the Arverne By the Sea project.

It was unclear whether DOT would announce a start date at the community board meeting, which will be held Tuesday, May 9, 7:45 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus hall on Beach 90 Street.

DOT did not return a call seeking comment.

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If SFP must be narrowed, instead of parallell parking, make it head in parking on a 90 degree angle. The head in parking will automatically eliminate one lane for driving and add more room for parking. How hard is this to think of?
K. Cohen

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