There are hopeful signs that, at long last, this will be the year that we get a commitment to mve dangerous truck traffic out of the main commercial area of Grand Avenue.
Everybody knows that big trucks don't belong on local shopping streets. They kill retail business; they create hazardous conditions for pedestrians, and they pollute the air. It is important to do everything possible - as soon as possible - to reduce truck traffic on Grand Avenue.
Getting those big trucks off this street has been the community's goal for more than a decade. Frank Principe and Community Board 5 developed a Maspeth Bypass Plan a decade ago to reduce dangerous truck traffic through the heart of the community.
We have now been notified that the long-awaited "Maspeth Bypass" may finally be implemented by the city Department of Transportation (DOT).
A decade of pressure and lobbying by elected officials and community leaders is finally getting us results as the city has announced a timetable for completing its engineering analysis of alternatives for the bypass, including the Community Board 5 proposal. The City will present a final plan to the community in September. In October, the agency will make a final recommendation of a plan for implementation.
With community frustrations over the long delay in resolving the long-standing threat to the community posed by the dangerous truck traffic, I joined other elected officials and civic leaders at a press conference on Grand Avenue earlier this year to suggest a change in the designation of the street south of 69th Street to a "local route" for truckers. This is something the city can do right now to reduce the number of big trucks that cut through the heart of Maspeth on their way to other boroughs and the DOT has promised to give us an answer to the proposal this Spring.
But changing the designation of the street immediately to make it a local route for truckers will require more than signs if it is to be successful; the regulations must also be vigorously enforced. It's up to the police to catch truckers who violate the ban and make sure they are fined.
To help do this I am sponsoring a bill in the Assembly that will permit the City to place cameras at key intersections - like Grand Avenue and 69th Street - and make it possible for the police to track down owners and operators and fine them when they break the law.
In these tough economic times, it is important that we do everything we can to help neighborhood businesses survive. Getting trucks off this street now will make a difference to Maspeth and I join with my colleagues in asking the Department of Transportation to support the request we are making - and to enforce it.