Oct. 26, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The Department of Transportation has officially announced that its pilot plan to convert Main Street into a busway will begin next month.
The new busway, which the MTA says will speed up bus service, will run 0.6 miles along Main Street– from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue. The busway is a pilot program that will be in effect for one year.
The DOT said it will start putting down new street markings and install signage in two weeks time but didn’t reveal when the changes would be completed.
The agency said the layout will improve slow and unpredictable bus speeds for the 155,000 people who use the Main Street bus route every day. Main Street provides a connection to the 7 train and the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Washington line.
“This pilot is meant to tackle the problem of traffic congestion in a collaborative way while maintaining local access, with the well-being of businesses as a prime consideration,” the DOT said in a statement Monday.
Council Member Peter Koo, who has opposed the project since it was first announced in June, said today that the project will inflict further damage to a community that is already suffering disproportionally under COVID-19 restrictions.
Koo has said the plan would add to the congestion on nearby streets, which would be magnified if restaurants are using street space for outdoor dining.
“This is the wrong plan at the wrong time and could be the dagger in the heart of what was once a vibrant Flushing community,” Koo said in a statement Monday.
“The mayor has described his efforts to create this busway as an ‘urgent need,’ but he is content to ignore so many other pressing issues our community faces every day such as rising unemployment, shuttered businesses, and countless illegal street vendors overwhelming our streets who sell everything from potato peelers to parasite-filled live crabs right off the sidewalk,” Koo said.
The city plans to ban cars on Main Street from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue and along a portion of Kissena Boulevard.
Only buses, trucks, and emergency vehicles would be permitted to use the Main Street busway, according to the plans. Passenger vehicles would only be permitted to use the busway for garage access and for pick-up or drop-off.
Many business owners fear that if people have difficulty driving in the area they will shop elsewhere.
On Sept. 25, the Flushing Chinese Business Association, which has nearly 1,500 members from the Flushing community, called on the MTA and DOT to postpone the installation of the busway by a month in order for the group to inform business owners about the plan and solicit feedback.
The association said last month that the outreach meetings were inadequate.
The DOT wrote to Queens Community Board 7 Friday announcing that construction was about to begin and that it had conducted additional outreach.
The agency also asked Queens Community Board 7 to convene a Community Advisory Board meeting in late November to discuss feedback on the project.