The Boulevard Boondoggle: Staying Silent on Woodhaven
by Ed Wendell
Nov 08, 2017 | 2878 views | 0 0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Remember when the Department of Transportation (DOT) was selling its plan for remodeling Woodhaven Boulevard by saying it would calm traffic? The supporters of the plan also claimed it would actually make driving on the boulevard quicker because of fewer lane shifts.

Well, the construction is nearly finished and people are starting to awaken to the fact that their boulevard has changed and they will need to change right along with it. But probably not in the way that DOT anticipated.

For example, when I need to travel to Cross Bay Boulevard or Howard Beach, I start by taking 90th Street. At Jamaica Avenue I hang a right and then make a left on 87th, and I take that until I hit Rockaway Boulevard. There, I make a quick left and a little right on to 88th Street, which I take all the way down to Pitkin.

In other words, I take the side streets to avoid the mess that DOT has created with their daft and dangerous enhancements to the boulevard. It’s quicker, safer and less aggravating. And I’m not alone; I’ve noticed more and more cars on this little alternate route.

As more people grow frustrated with their normal 20-minute drives now taking 45 minutes or more, they will seek out similar shortcuts. If the plan was to siphon traffic off a busy boulevard and on to our residential streets, then we offer our congratulations to DOT for a job well done.

We’d also like to offer congratulations to DOT in advance for the increased revenue this misadventure will generate. For the last few months, while they were putting this thing in place, all the signs north of Metropolitan Avenue warned drivers that the “Bus Only” lanes were only in effect during the day.

Suddenly, the signs were swapped out and the Bus Only lanes are now 24-7. Coincidentally, at the same time, cameras were installed. Drivers who do not follow the new rules will be ticketed and taught a lesson.

Now think about how this came about. Woodhaven was a dangerous place for pedestrians, commuters, bicyclists, and drivers. There were numerous reasons for this, but a big factor was lack of enforcement.

Cars flew down Woodhaven Boulevard at dangerous speeds. If you were ever standing on the boulevard as one of these maniacs sped by, you can attest to this fact.

These maniacs were, in fact, breaking the law. But without enforcement, they learned that it was okay and the problem blossomed. This was a problem created and nurtured by the city.

And instead of the obvious solution - better enforcement - they went the route of spending millions of taxpayer dollars and installing robo-enforcement.

That’s city government for you. Step One, create a problem. Step Two, use a lot of your money to “solve” the problem they created. Coming soon, Step Three, in which the city uses more of your money to fix the new problem they just created.

The city is playing with house money. Your money, and it can’t lose.

So, whose fault is this? Well, we can’t blame the city or even DOT, it’s in their nature.

Instead, a good deal of the blame rests on the shoulders of the residents who haven’t been paying attention. Social media is packed with people who are just now waking up to what’s being done and wanting to protest.

Had these suddenly irate people taken the time to get a bit more involved in their community, perhaps alternative plans or suggestions would have received more attention. Perhaps we would have ended up with a solution that works for everyone instead of a plan that works at the expense of many.

They are too late for this battle. But over the next 12 months, this boulevard will be monitored closely and we may have an opportunity to force changes.

But not if you’re sitting at home, asleep and uninvolved.

The next meeting of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association is at noon on Saturday, November 18, at American Legion Post 118 at 89-02 91st Street (behind PS 60). Come out and get involved and have a voice in what happens to your community.
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