When residents in Maspeth walk along Grand and Flushing Avenues, near the LIE, they make sure to look both ways before crossing and to look out for large trucks zipping through their neighborhood.
“It’s very bad and very dangerous, too,” said one local woman.
That’s why the City’s Department of Transportation is changing the traffic pattern so that trucks can no longer take shortcuts to Brooklyn through these streets. Trucks making local deliveries will be the only exception.
A study conducted by the local community board in 2001 found that nearly 1000 large commercial trucks use Grand Avenue every day between 6am and 5pm. If the proposal is approved at a public hearing within 2 months, the changes will go into effect immediately. In the meantime, DOT is working on a more permanent solution. By January, they are expected to announce design plans to build a bypass route along Maurice Avenue, through Maspeth’s Industrial Business Zone.
“I don’t know what they’re coming up with, it may be a series of one way streets, it may be a traffic circle,” said Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Maspeth).
Others say the changes have taken too long to implement and that this plan will just move the problem somewhere else.
“They’re going to be wandering through our side streets, which they do now. You know, truck drivers have this incredible habit if taking the path of least resistance, or the shortest route,” said Maspeth activist Manny Caruana.
“We’ve been fighting for 10 years to get these trucks off the commercial strips of Maspeth and Grand Avenue,” said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
Elected officials point out that DOT is the agency responsible for implementing the changes. A DOT spokesperson says that before making changes to the traffic pattern, they needed to study existing conditions, collect more data.
“Things don’t happen overnight even though we want them to happen overnight. And I can understand the frustration,” said Congress Member Joseph Crowley (D-Queens/Bronx).
The permanent bypass project will also have to go through a public review process. If approved, it could take several years to complete.