2006-05-12 / Front Page

DOT Outlines New Shore Front Pkwy Safety Plan

By Brian Magoolaghan


DOT Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy and Chief of Highway Design and Construction Sam Barkho detail the plan for Shore Front ParkwayDOT Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy and Chief of Highway Design and Construction Sam Barkho detail the plan for Shore Front Parkway The Department of Transportation outlined Tuesday night the first phase of a "safety improvement" plan that will drastically change Shore Front Parkway for motorists and pedestrians alike.

The plan, which was designed after two deadly accidents triggered another traffic study last summer, includes narrowing the parkway to one traffic lane in each direction, the elimination of breaks in the median that don't line up with intersections and the addition of a bike lane on the southernmost part of the roadway.

According to a three-page set of drawings handed out at the meeting, the plan calls for: parking to remain along the north side of Shore Front Parkway; a 13-foot wide westbound lane with a zebra-stripe buffer, about 5-feet wide, extending from the median; the 13-foot-wide eastbound traffic lane will run alongside the median and will be separated by a 10-foot-wide zebra-stripe buffer from a 5-foot-wide bike path that will be on the southernmost part of the roadway.

DOT Chief of Highway Design and Construction Sam Barkho reviews part of the plan with Community Board 14 Chair Delores Orr.DOT Chief of Highway Design and Construction Sam Barkho reviews part of the plan with Community Board 14 Chair Delores Orr. DOT Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy and Chief of Highway Design and Construction Sam Barkho detailed the changes to members of Community Board 14 and an audience of about 40 people.

"This is the best solution that we are going to have," McCarthy said during her presentation.

Although most of the outcry surrounding Shore Front has called for traffic signals in a 20-block stretch that has none, McCarthy said signals were not "warranted" under Federal guidelines and would not eliminate the dangers. Some, like board member Barbara Morris, were not accepting of that determination.

"[Traffic lights] may not meet the criteria, but it meets the criteria of Rockaway," Morris railed. But McCarthy stood by DOT's plan, which has been kept under wraps for months (the drawings were prepared on January 15).

"A traffic signal is not going to correct a speeding problem," she asserted. The commissioner told the audience that DOT decided to eliminate the breaks in the median, or "cut-throughs," that don't line up with intersecting streets to eliminate problems caused by "misaligned intersections and [Dayton] driveways." DOT traffic experts noted motorists exiting some of the Dayton buildings along Shore Front Parkway were driving against traffic to sneak around the median in order to reach the eastbound lanes.

In all, nine cut-throughs will be eliminated, which means motorists who want to turn around will have to drive farther out of their way before they can do so legally. Although it remains to be seen how drivers will adjust, it's a safe bet that some will receive summonses after giving in to the temptation to use the closed cut-throughs.

Initially, all of the changes, including the cut-through closures, will be made with painted lines only - no Jersey barriers or concrete. This will maintain the roadways flexibility for emergency vehicles and drivers in the event of an evacuation, McCarthy said. Eventually, the nine cut-throughs could be permanently eliminated and new ones installed where the Dayton building's driveways are located. That would have to be part of future capital improvement projects.

"Frankly, it's probably six years out," McCarthy said.

The plan, first reported in The Wave last week, was not subject to a vote by the board and Chairperson Delores Orr said board members would not officially weigh in because they're "not safety experts." Board member Vince Castellano voiced support because, he said, "The last two kids who died on Shore Front Parkway would still be alive if we had this plan."

The DOT is in the process of awarding a contract, and McCarthy estimated that the work would begin in about one to two months from now. The work should take two to three weeks to complete, she said.

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