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Traffic, Traffic, Traffic! Changes Coming Soon to Springfield Gardens and JFK Business District

Most everyone has a horror story of crossing Rockaway Blvd near the DMV or a tale of a terrific accident on the Conduit turning onto Rockaway Blvd or a roaring conflict between vehicles exiting the Belt Parkway and merging into traffic.  Pedestrian traffic navigating to public transportation is a challenge on 147th street and there are hairpin truck curves and turns throughout the area.  If you can survive all of that, good luck finding a place to park the car. 

The Greater JFK Industrial Business Improvement District (IBID) hosted a presentation from the Department of Transportation (DOT) at its September 27, 2017 meeting.  The Department of Transportation shared the recommendations it will be implementing from its Springfield Gardens/JFK Transportation Study. 

The study area, which has been problematic for some time, covers the triangular area bordered by North Conduit Blvd, Nassau Expressway/ Rockaway Blvd and Springfield Blvd. 

The goal of the study was to improve traffic circulation and safety for all street users: trucks, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.  These recommendations came after public participation town halls and meetings with community boards, city agencies, state agencies, elected officials and the NYPD.

The timeline for implementation of solutions can be a few months to years depending on the required improvements.  Of course, smaller fixes have a shorter timeline than larger scale projects.

Based on the feedback there are still some solutions which require further review prior to moving forward with the recommendations.

Recommendations include changing parking regulations, changing street directions, adding signals, improving or adding pedestrian pavements and/or walkways, moving bus stops and adding turning signals to traffic lights.  The recommendations are detailed below.

Intersection of Rockaway and Guy R Brewer Blvd. 

One of the issues at this intersection is the lack of pedestrian protections while crossing at the intersection.  The intersection includes pedestrian traffic to the nearby bus depot.  MTA employees are challenged to find parking and then walk back to the depot across congested traffic.  There was a concern that the MTA had not opened the depot to employee parking as yet.  Recommendation: install concrete islands, ramps and stop bars on North Boundary Road.  Make increases to signal timing to allow extra time for crossing.

155th  and 156th between South Conduit and 146th  Avenue

The challenge in this area is the difficulties trucks have making right turns from 115th Street onto the South Conduit Avenue/Rockaway Blvd.  The recommendation is to reverse the traffic direction on 155th and 156th streets.  Feedback from participants felt that solution was not viable.  The new direction of 155th street would not allow for right turns.  They believe the street is too narrow and that the DOT is not accounting for whether there would be cars parked on the street at the time of the turn.  “There are too many buses, trucks and trailers entering and exiting on one road,” said Frank Liggio, Chairperson of IBID.  “We need another exit to the Nassau Expressway.  That is the answer,” he said. 

Farmers and Rockaway Blvds

This intersection sees heavy traffic with no lanes for left turns.  On Farmers Blvd, the bus stop causes traffic tie ups.  The recommendation includes adjusting signal timings, including street pavement yellow markings for North and South Bound left turn lanes.  The bus stop will be relocated 80 feet forward and a ‘No Standing Anytime’ sign will be placed at the former bus stop just behind the new stop. 

147th Avenue off Guy R Brewer Blvd

This is an area of particular pedestrian concern due to its commercial and residential mixture.  Speeding has been a problem in the area as well as a commercial truck repair business.  Recommendations include speeding signs, adding a bus shelter and repairing/enforcing the sidewalk.  A proposed traffic light will not be added to the area which caused particular concern to those in attendance.  The area is prone to flooding and has no catch basin.  A new hotel at the site is operating a shelter which has led to increased pedestrian traffic.  “A couple of my neighbors almost got killed there last week,” said Springfield Gardens advocate Fay Hill.  Michael Griffith, Deputy Direct of Traffic Analysis for the DOT explained that the traffic signal will not be installed because the area doesn’t meet federal guidelines.

Springfield Blvd and 145th Avenue/145th Road

This newly constructed area has seen speeding, no pedestrian crossing allocations and buses challenged when making U-turns.  The MTA is also considering extending the Q77 bus route to Springfield Lane.  The recommendations for this site includes a pedestrian signal at 145th Avenue, a pedestrian fence, a sensor for buses making U-turns at 145th road and signs for no standing and speed restrictions. 

Belt Parkway Exit/N. Conduit Avenue

The exit 21B (Farmers Blvd/Guy R Brewer Blvd) from the Belt Parkway onto North Conduit is short and obstructed by trees.  Fast moving traffic on the Conduit leads to vehicular conflict at the exit.  The recommendations are to install a stop bar on the Belt Parkway’s exit ramp and relocate the stop sign 20 feet before the point of the merge (where there currently exists a sign).  The trees at the exit ramp will also be pruned. 

An area not covered in the study but the group still wants a solution is 227th and 228th streets which are being used by trucks.  Griffith stated that although that site is not included in this study, the DOT will continue to review the streets. 

The group also didn’t fully comprehend the recommendations for proposed new truck routes for Nassau Expressway, Farmers Blvd, and Guy R Brewer Bvld sections east of the S. Conduit.  DOT representatives explained the new truck routes, which would have the same trailer size constraints, are an additional way to get trucks with deliveries into the area without having to loop around the entire area. 

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