April 11, 2019 By Christian Murray
The Department of Transportation plans to redesign a number of Sunnyside and Woodside streets as it looks to expands the bicycle lane network to link up with the new Kosciuszko Bridge.
The second span of the Kosciuszko Bridge will open later this year and will feature a 20-foot-wide path for cyclists and pedestrians in both directions, providing a key link from Brooklyn to Queens.
The DOT is looking to expand the bicycle network from the bridge to Queens Boulevard and is working on redesigning some key roadways. Changes will be made to 48th Street, 47th Street, 50th Avenue and a small portion of 43rd Street—all south of Queens Boulevard.
The DOT said that no parking spaces would be removed as part of the redesign nor would it lead to increased congestion. The redesigns, however, would result in the narrowing of travel lanes, the agency said, but the roadways are currently wide enough that the change should have limited impact.
The most complex part of the redesign is taking bicyclists from the Kosciuszko Bridge to where 43rd Street and the Queens Midtown Expressway meet.
“There is a limited bike network there now,” said Craig Baerwald, a DOT project manager told the Queens Community Board 2 Transportation Committee last week, noting that it is in a very industrial area punctuated by the BQE and Midtown Expressway.
Starting at the Kosciuszko Bridge, the DOT is proposing turning the current staging area on Laurel Hill Boulevard between 54th Avenue and 56th Road into a bike/pedestrian path that connects to an existing pedestrian bridge.
The DOT would then create a shared use sidewalk that leads to the pedestrian bridge underneath the Midtown Expressway.
Once on 43rd Street, the network would involve designated lanes for bicyclists and motorists to share the roadway.
The city plans to install a painted bike lane on 43rd Street between the Midtown Expressway and 50th Ave on both sides of the street. This involves converting a 25-foot combined travel and parking lane–into an 11 foot travel lane, 5 foot bike lane and 9 foot parking lane. This change would take place on both sides of the street.
On 50th Avenue, the street is narrower. From Greenpoint Avenue to 48th Street, the DOT plans to change the 22-foot combined travel and parking lane into a designated 8-foot parking lane, and a 14-foot share lane. This would be on both sides of the street.
The bigger changes take place on 48th Street between Queens Boulevard all the way down past the expressway where 48th Street meets 47th Street.
On 48th Street, which is two-way street except between 47th Avenue and Queens Boulevard, the DOT plans to add a painted bike lane for south-bound cyclists down to 47th Street. There will not be a northbound bike lane on 48th Street for this stretch.
The tiny strip on 48th Street between 47th Ave. and Queens Boulevard—which is one way—will be tweaked to make room for south bound cyclists.
Bicyclists who are riding toward north, from the bridge toward Queens Boulevard, will be directed to 47th Street, a one-way street. The roadway will be tweaked to include a 5 foot painted bike lane.
The DOT aims to make these changes in the late summer in order for the network to be ready for when the new Kosciuszko Bridge span opens. It is looking for Community Board 2 to provide a letter of support.
Nicole Garcia, Queens DOT Commissioner, said the agency is currently taking feedback.
She reiterated that there will be no loss of parking and that it won’t lead to street congestion.
“We are not removing any capacity,” Garcia said. “It might feel that way because there are new markings on the roadway. But it was just an overly wide travel lane.”