Alex Blenkinsopp, communications director for the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association, said the vote, although only advisory, is another statement in opposition of the plan.
“This project has been a major source of concern and discussion within the CB9 neighborhoods for quite a long time, and the mayor’s office sent a representative asking CB9 to vote in favor,” he said. “All of that leads me to believe that CB9’s opinion on this matter should carry significant weight.”
Among the board's concerns are the elimination of one lane of vehicular traffic and plans for buses to load from medians instead of the sidewalk. Despite the vote, DOT appears to be moving forward with the plan.
“Less than two days after CB9 had its decisive vote, DOT began construction on the median bus stops at Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue,” said Blenkinsopp, who also serves on CB9. “This was a slap in the face to the community. They obviously knew what they were going to do before they had their vote.”
On Facebook, DOT posted a photo of the work on Woodhaven Boulevard, promising it would shorten crossing times and serve as a future SBS station.
Over the past year, DOT has held several public meeting in Woodhaven, but Blenkinsopp said the agency has not been responsive to community input.
Blenkinsopp specifically pointed to two proposed alternative plans a coalition of community groups has asked DOT to explore. One of those proposals would turn the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line into an express bus service route.
“This idea has gained a lot of support, and it’s folly to proceed with massive construction on the boulevard without even exploring this alternative,” he said.
The other proposal would allow only buses to bypass the Woodhaven Boulevard overpass approaching Union Turnpike as you head south.
“This bridge is a major bottleneck,” Blenkinsopp said. “DOT has identified it as a pinch point where traffic accumulates. Whether it’s in a car or in a bus, it’s an awful place to drive.”
A spokesperson for DOT disputes the claims that they haven't implemented community feedback.
"DOT conducted substantial outreach with the community since 2014 and listened closely to its concerns, resulting in changes to the original plan such as keeping left turns at Jamaica Avenue and elsewhere," the spokesperson said.
Despite the contingent of community members opposed, DOT still believes SBS will mean a safer Woodhaven Boulevard.
"Woodhaven SBS will bring safety improvements and more efficient bus services to the thousands who travel daily on the corridor, while maintaining traffic flow," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that they informed CB9 on September 13 of the safety work that's currently underway.
"Jamaica Ave and Woodhaven Blvd has been one of top three most dangerous intersections in the city and our goal is to move quickly on safety improvements at that location," the spokesperson added.
The DOT said they plan to continue outreach and dialogue throughout the process.