Opponents Protest Select Bus Service Plan in Woodhaven

Protesters and elected officials denounced parts of a major plan to bring Select Bus Service to the Woodhaven Boulevard Corridor during a rally hosted by the Woodhaven Residents Block Association and Queens Public Transit Committee on Saturday. NY1's Van Tieu filed this report.

More than a hundred protesters gathered at the corner of Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue on Saturday.

The location is the site of a stop along a proposed Select Bus Service route.

The Woodhaven corridor is also considered a priority intersection under the Mayor's Vision Zero initiative.

For that reason, some say adding SBS service along Woodhaven Boulevard would be a mistake. 

Protesters and elected officials, like State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. and State Assembly Member Mike Miller, argue that one of the major flaws of a plan to re-design the corridor is a decision to place bus stops in the median.

“Where are the people going to go if a car happens to crash in the barricade? You know, the only way to go is back into a street where other cars are coming?" asked Martin Colberg, President of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association.

According to a plan drawn up by NYC's Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transit Authority, a curbside lane in each direction would be dedicated to buses only, in order to improve bus speeds.

However, opponents to the plan said they believe that move would eliminate two lanes for drivers.

"That’s what’s putting us in danger of cardiac arrest. First, with Woodhaven Boulevard being our main artery here, it’s too clogged up already," said Michael Scala, First Vice President of the Queens Public Transit Committee.

Others believe that move would force drivers into residential streets.

“Children playing and pets that are not accustomed to this traffic will get hurt,” explained Maria Thomson, Executive Director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation.

Residents said it's time for officials to go back to the drawing board, but they worry nothing will change.

"They’re not really listening to the community and it’s a shame," said Colberg.

However, a DOT spokesperson said the department has been listening to community members.

"As acknowledged by the organizers of [Saturday's] event, DOT made multiple changes to the original plan after listening to the community and working with stakeholders to address their concerns.

"This extensive community outreach process yielded alterations, asked for by residents, such as not banning left turns at Jamaica Avenue in both directions, while still offering safety enhancements along the corridor that will benefit the thousands of pedestrians, drivers, and bus riders who travel, work and shop on the corridor every day. DOT will monitor the impacts of these changes, as it does for all projects," said DOT Spokesman Scott Gastel.

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