July 18, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The Department of Transportation said it will begin construction on its Skillman and 43rd Avenues project in August, and is expecting to wrap up work some time in the fall.
The street safety improvement project, which went through three iterations and continues to be the subject of much controversy in Sunnyside, includes the installation of protected bike lanes, pedestrian islands, some travel lane losses, and the elimination of a combined 116 parking spaces through a roughly 25 block section of the avenues.
“DOT’s safety redesign to calm traffic on Skillman and 43rd Avenues will provide shorter and safer pedestrian crossings by installing painted pedestrian refuge islands, as well as upgraded bike routes to improve safety and mobility for cyclists commuting between Queens Boulevard and the Queensboro and Pulaski Bridges,” a DOT spokesperson said in a statement.
The DOT did not specify when exactly it plans on beginning work through the two avenues, nor did it respond to questions on the construction process, including potential street closures and repaving.
The project was given the green light by mayor Bill de Blasio just last week, who said he instructed the agency to “move forward with pedestrian safety and protected bike lanes that will save lives.”
The mayor’s go-ahead also came weeks after Community Board 2 said no to the DOT’s plan.
Opponents of the plan have claimed, since the original version was released in November, that the elimination of 116 parking spaces will make a bad parking situation in the neighborhood worse.
A multitude of business owners also believe that the loss of about two to four parking spaces per block will wreak havoc on profits. Meanwhile, those that support the plan see it as enhancing safety for everyone, with parking loss as a necessary trade off.
The DOT did not say whether it will keep track of business performance after the project is implemented. The agency, however, said it would be conducting post-implementation analysis, including gathering traffic data and community feedback, as it does in all its projects.