2009-05-29 / Letters

Don't Change Road Pattern

The following letter was sent to the Queens commissioner for the city's Department of Transportation. Dear Ms. McCarthy,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Bayswater Civic Association. We represent the people living in the Bayswater section of Far Rockaway, roughly the area bounded by Jamaica Bay, the NYC line, and Beach Channel Drive.

I am writing to you because we have learned in the past week that the Department of Transportation intends to reduce traffic on Beach Channel Drive from the NYC line west to Regina Avenue to one lane in each direction (what DOT calls "roadway dieting," I believe). Further, we understand that this is being undertaken at the request of Sergeant Hartman of the 101 Precinct.

We believe that this action would be a serious mistake for several reasons.

First of all, the area in question has been a serious traffic problem for a number of years as construction has resulted in a number of poorly repaired utility cuts. This has caused vehicles, particularly automobiles, to dodge left and right in an effort to preserve their vehicle's suspensions. No doubt that these "dodging" actions result in collisions. This problem has

now been rectified by the recent repaving.

Second, the road in Nassau County (Sheridan Boulevard) is two lanes in both directions. Constricting the road in the city is likely to cause all manner of backups into Nassau County. Also, since the road routinely floods at 2 Sheridan Boulevard, some cars that are forced to stop in the flooded area are likely to become stranded.

Third, the traffic signals on Hassock Avenue are not aligned to be visible down the length of the street. This is a particular problem for traffic turning left (southbound) onto Beach Channel Drive where many northbound vehicles typically stop in the intersection partly because there has not been a "stop" line on the pavement for many years and partly because of inaction by the police - indeed, they are as guilty as anyone in passing the stop line. Numerous calls to DOT and 311 have not resulted in any remedies. The result is that traffic may not see a yellow or red signal in time to react to it, and turning traffic typically has to navigate around vehicles stopped in the intersection.

Fourth, this is a very heavily traveled road with a very short distance between the traffic signals at the Hassock Avenue / Horton Avenue intersection and the Nameoke Avenue intersection. As things are now, traffic often spills back from one intersection to the other. If you reduce the roadway width, it can only get worse.

Fifth, your department has already recognized the need for multiple lanes at the Mott Avenue intersection. The existing multiple lane assignments have worked exceptionally well. There does not appear to be any reason to alter them.

Sixth, the situation at the Beach Channel Drive / Rockaway Freeway / Regina Avenue intersection already results in multiple accidents (fender benders that are rarely reported) because DOT has refused to install traffic signals visible to southbound traffic before the turn, DOT has refused to place a stop line, DOT has refused to indicate turn lanes for traffic going to the Freeway and Beach Channel Drive, and DOT has refused to provide an additional clearance interval for southbound traffic passing the Freeway light but meeting a red light at Regina Avenue. These problems will not be helped by so-called "roadway dieting." That will only cause southbound traffic to spillback to Mott Avenue. Of course lane reductions northbound could also cause spillback on the other direction.

Finally, Beach Channel Drive is a "Coastal Evacuation Route." Given the limited access and egress from the Rockaways, it is difficult to comprehend the benefits of constricting egress further.

We are unable to understand any good purpose that would be served by

the proposed actions. I would be happy to meet with your traffic engineers to review the proposals.

I, and the Bayswater Civic Association, sincerely appreciate your review of this matter.

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