2006-07-28 / Front Page

Narrowing Roads Sparks 'Total Outrage,' Addabbo Says

By Brian Magoolaghan

A local politician is calling for the Department of Transportation to undo its recent narrowing of Shore Front Parkway and parts of Beach Channel Drive to one lane in each direction.

City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. calls for "a reversal... and another method [to] be used to control traffic" on two of the peninsula's major east/west roads, in a letter sent this week to DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall.

"My office has been inundated with calls expressing dissatisfaction and total outrage with all the amendments made," the councilman wrote.

"The outcome of the changes made to the roadways caused an increase in traffic and does not allow people sufficient time to walk safely across said streets."

Addabbo told The Wave last week that he is "totally against" the DOT's Safety Improvement Plan, which he said was force-fed to Rockaway without any opportunity for community input.

DOT Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy presented the agency's plan at the May 9 meeting of Community Board 14. The plan was not subject to a vote by the board and members did not collectively weigh in on the plan, although CB14 had earlier asked DOT to investigate narrowing Shore Front Parkway to one lane as a possible solution to traffic and pedestrian issues there. The Wave reported on the DOT's plan in the May 12 issue under the headline "DOT Outlines New Shore Front Pkwy Safety Plan."

Although most of the public outcry regarding Shore Front called for traffic lights in a 20-block section that has none, McCarthy said the roadway does not meet federal standards for traffic lights and that lights are used to allow intersecting traffic - not to slow traffic. Addabbo says that when he pushed the traffic light issue with her she insinuated that further investigation could actually lead to the removal of existing lights on the roadway.

"It was almost tongue-in-cheek with a wink," Addabbo said of McCarthy's tactics.

Addabbo was also miffed that a 311 operator gave a complainant his office number instead of logging the complaint on the city's system. "That's not what 311 is for," the councilman said.

According to Addabbo's office, a DOT Community Coordinator visited the peninsula July 14 to inspect the work and note any new issues, and CB14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska said he also met with representatives from DOT. Gaska cited the "jug handle" and beach drop-off area on Beach 94 and 95 Streets, the width of the bike lane and illegal parking along the south side of Shore Front Parkway as some of the board's concerns.

Gaska said CB14 also requested strict "No Parking" enforcement along Shore Front and said the issue of lifeguard parking adjacent to the shacks must be addressed.

A Wave reporter drove on Shore Front Parkway Monday morning and, in the short distance between Beach 108 and Beach 87 Street, noted a motorist driving on the barrier between the vehicle and bike lanes and running a red light and a vehicle making a U-turn where the mall is now closed with painted markings. The reporter later observed an unmarked police car making a traffic stop in the same area, but it was unclear what the alleged offense was.

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