Heres a "Pop Quiz": Name three ways to
determine that summer has arrived in the borough of Queens. A) Its hot really
hot, and sticky; B) Your neighbors are spending their evenings on their stoops, or sitting
in lawn chairs lining the sidewalks; and C) theres a traffic jam on almost every
highway, by-way and avenue all due to road construction.
Okay, so you made it through the 9-to-5 and hit the road headed for the cool comforts
of home. Thats when it happens. Youre stuck in one of those traffic jams, your
mood melting as the sizzling sun bonds your tires to the pavement.
when it happens. Youre stuck in one of those traffic jams, your mood melting as the
sizzling sun bonds your tires to the pavement.
Sorry for the inconvenience, but summer is, naturally, the best time to
fix-up crumbling roadways, according to city transportation officials. After all, it
doesnt make sense to plan major resurfacing or reconstruction projects for the dead
This summer, in addition to city projects that have seemingly been underway for most of
our lives (i.e. Booth Memorial Avenue in Flushing and Queens Plaza in Long Island City)
the federal government announced recently that it will kick-in approximately $15.3 million
in funding for several new, major Queens projects:
Reconstruction of Linden Place $5.3 million.
The work will include construction to correct flooding between 26th and 28th Avenues.
Anyone who has been near the area during a rainstorm knows that flooding is so bad here
your car needs waterwings to make it through.
Rehabilitation of bridges across the Sunnyside Yards (into Queens Boulevard)
The state and city announced this "rehab" project in 1988, including nine
spans that run from communities in Western Queens to Queens Boulevard.
Most of the construction and repairs were slated to begin during fiscal years 1991-1992
(and they did). The "bridge mess" prompted Councilman Walter McCaffrey to
schedule a series of Task Force meetings, bringing state and city Department of
Transportation (DOT) representatives face-to-face with local business and residential
communities to discuss construction plans and impact on the area.
The whole mess prompted McCaffrey to advise his constituents, "
planning an around-the-world cruise, do it in 91 or 92."
Construction in some form or other is still underway at most of these crossings.
|Peace At A Price
The state DOT jumped into the middle of three noisy battles last week, announcing a
multi-million dollar project to construct sound barriers along highways adjacent to three
Queens neighborhoods. The pricetag a cool $1.5 million.
The first is on the Grand Central Parkway (both sides), from 172nd Street to Chevy
Chase Road in Jamaica Estates.
In addition, $375,000 is slated for sound barriers along the Grand Central, between
224th Street and Douglaston Parkway.
Likewise, a sound barrier will be constructed on the east side of the Clearview
Expressway from 15th Road to Willets Point Boulevard in Bay Terrace. The project carries a
$300,000 price tag.
All three projects are still on the drawing board, DOT officials said. The Douglaston
project is "slightly ahead," of the others, but is still in a planning stage,
Sometimes it seems like the city is digging-up every other street corner that
local construction delays seem to never end.
Take the construction on Booth Memorial Avenue a years-long project.
This stretch of roadway was in horrendous shape after the 1994-95 snows. So the city
did a complete resurfacing digging up the roadway "to grade" and
completely repaving it.
No sooner was that construction completed when the city dug into the new pavement to
install new sewer lines. The sewer construction is a local nightmare a bad dream
that has lasted for more than a year. Local residents were colorful in their description
of the project. "It sucks," they said adamantly.
All in all, the roadway has been under reconstruction for more than two years. The big
dig has affected traffic adjacent to the NY Hospital Center of Queens, and the Kissena
Heres a listing of all Queens roadway repair projects currently underway:
- Contract milling and resurfacing throughout the borough, including resurfacing in
communities from Astoria to the Rockaways.
- Brookville Boulevard area in Rosedale.
- Reconstruction and widening of Rust Street and Grand Avenue in West Maspeth.
- Reconstruction of streets bounded by 99th Street, 50th Avenue, Junction Boulevard in
- Reconstruction of 14th Avenue from College Point Boulevard to 150th Street in College
Point and Whitestone.
- Reconstruction of Booth Memorial Avenue from College Point Boulevard to Fresh Meadows
Lane in Flushing and Fresh Meadows.
- Downtown Flushing Street Improvement Phase III which includes the Union Street Bridge
over the Long Island Railroad and the roadway between Northern Boulevard and Sanford
Avenue in Flushing.
- Reconstruction of roads and storm sewer installation in 165th Avenue from 83rd Street to
88th Street in Howard Beach ($1.9 million).
- Reconstruction of 100th Street in Richmond Hill ($1.93 million).
- Reconstruction of the 45th Drive area bounded by Northern Boulevard, Bell Boulevard,
48th Avenue and 206th Street in Bayside ($5.2 million).
- Reconstruction of Hoffman Drive from 57th Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard including
ancillary streets in Elmhurst ($2.07 million).
- Reconstruction of Kneeland Avenue area, including ancillary streets in Elmhurst
- Installation of pedestrian ramps throughout Queens 1997 and 1998 contracts ($3
- Contract resurfacing on streets throughout the Borough Presidents 1997 contract
- Reconstruction of Wynwood Gardens area streets and sewers in Maspeth ($12.2 million).
- Reconstruction of the Malba Drive bulkhead in Malba ($914,000).
- Engineered resurfacing of streets throughout the Borough Presidents 1994 and 1995
contracts ($7.6 million).
- Replacement of the 102nd Street Bridge over Hawtree Basin in Hamilton Beach ($7.4
- Reconstruction of the 65th Place Bridge over the LIRR in Woodside ($3.2 million).
- Rehabilitation of Rikers Island Bridge in Astoria ($12.5 million).
- Reconstruction of streets, sewers and water mains in the Ozone Park area ($13.2
- Queensborough Bridge lower outer roadways in Long Island City ($161.4 million).
- Reconstruction of 57th Avenue and Caldwell Avenue Bridges over Conrail in Middle Village
In 1997, design and construction was advanced on a number of sewer projects which will
improve the quality of life in many neighborhoods by providing relief to residents
experiencing flooding due to inadequate sewer systems. These projects include storm sewers
at the following locations:
- Whitestone Expressway Service Road between 25th Road and Downing Street and vicinity in
Flushing/College Point ($3.4 million).
- Springfield Boulevard between 46th Avenue and 47th Avenue in Bayside ($1.1 million).
- Borden Avenue between 21st Street and 27th Street and vicinity in Long Island City ($8.9
- Seventh Avenue between 144th Street and Point Crescent in Whitestone ($3.3 million).
- 39th Avenue between 210th Street and 213th Street in Bayside ($1.6 million).
- Surrey Place between Kildare Road and Union Turnpike and vicinity in Jamaica Estates
- 226th Street between Union Turnpike and Kingsbury Avenue ($1 million).
- Lutheran Avenue to Eliot Avenue along 74th Street in Middle Village ($1 million).
- 48th Street area as part of the Queens West Development project in Long Island City
In addition, Borough President Claire Shulman has allocated approximately $41 million
for dozens of smaller storm, sanitary, catch basin and seepage basin projects as well as
$8.7 million in trench restoration projects throughout Queens.
But the granddaddy of them all, the most invasive, traffic-jamming construction
nightmare continues to be the 63rd Street subway connection in Long Island City.
Crews started digging up Northern Boulevard between 34th Street and Queens Plaza North
(or 41st Avenue) in March 1995.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is overseeing the digging. Right now,
its a hodgepodge of projects, from sewer and sidewalk reconstruction to the massive
job of digging a sub-sub-level tunnel to connect the 21st Street "Q" line with
the Queens Boulevard BMT, and the construction of electric "sub-station."
During off hours, traffic is backed up from Queens Plaza North to 34th Street and
Northern Boulevard, where construction crews have left only one lane open in either
direction (eastbound or westbound).
Avoiding road construction like this on Northern Blvd. in Long
Island City this summer is not going to be easy, but armed with this list, youll
know where not to go.
Tribune Photo By Liz Goff
Project manager Pete Fisher told the Tribune that construction plans call for
soon-to-be erected "decking" along the span from 34th Street to Queens Plaza
North. Fisher said the decking will provide crews with enough space to work on upper
levels of the subway tunnel. Vehicles will ride approximately six to 10 feet above
Northern Boulevard while the span is "decked," and the decking will remain in
place until the project is near completion.
When will that be? Well, MTA officials have promised a completion date sometime in the
year 2002. But remember this project is being brought to you by the same folks that
sponsored the infamous "Tunnel to Nowhere" a project that was delayed and
postponed, again and again. The $850 million-plus project was finally completed in
1989 and the tunnel stopped abruptly at 21st Street and 41st Avenue in Long Island
City thus the nickname "Tunnel to Nowhere."
It took more than 20 years for crews to complete that project, from the time it
appeared on drawing boards at the MTA until the first subway car rolled into the 21st
A last minute delay would have been humorous if the construction hadnt
displaced and disturbed businesses and residences too numerous to count.
Approximately six weeks before the scheduled "first-run" of a train into the
21st Street station, construction contractors tested a car in a run through
Somewhere along the 20-year history of the project, someone at the MTA redesigned the
citys subway cars. The six inch wider, more "straphanger-friendly" cars
simply did not fit into the too-narrow tunnel. Crews picked up their shovels and began the
costly, time consuming process of widening the tunnel.
Have faith, motorists. This construction, like the summer heat, will be a memory
But maybe not in our lifetime.