July 19, 2019, Shane O’Brien
Queens politicians rallied with local residents, business owners and civic leaders on Thursday to call for a delay to the installation of the controversial proposed bus lane on Fresh Pond Road.
The project would put a southbound bus lane on Fresh Pond Road between Metropolitan Avenue and Putnam Avenue. Councilman Robert Holden and State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan have both issued letters to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg suggesting changes to the proposals, echoing a rejection of the proposal last week by Community Board 5.
Both politicians stated that the DOT should first consider what they called “less drastic changes” to the Fresh Pond Road bus lane, such as adjusting traffic signal timing, consolidating bus stops or creating turn lanes.
“The traffic on Fresh Pond Road needs to be alleviated but we must come up with a solution that works for all parties involved,” said Nolan.
One of the Community Board’s biggest problems with the project is the fact that it would remove 70 parking spaces from the area. The DOT has countered that the plan would add 60 metered spaces to side streets.
Nolan has also said that much of the opposition to the proposed bus lane stems from the concern that it would disrupt access to local businesses during key hours in the afternoon and early evening.
“Business owners, residents and the community board have all expressed support for these alternative measures, so it’s time for the DOT to listen and react accordingly,” Holden added.
In response to Holden and Nolan’s event yesterday, the DOT stated that it was taking feedback from local residents and business owners into consideration, but that “a comprehensive solution, as opposed to a piecemeal approach,” is needed to fix mobility problems on Fresh Pond Road.
“Buses, cars and first responders currently crawl southbound during late afternoon and early evening rush hour between Bleecker Street and 67th Avenue on Fresh Pond Road, often at 3 miles per hour—slower than the average person walks. DOT’s design for this critical corridor will make traveling faster for all users,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Transportation group Rider’s Alliance also spoke out in support of the Fresh Pond Road bus lane plan in response to Thursday’s rally.
“As a Ridgewood resident and bus rider, I couldn’t be more excited for a bus lane on Fresh Pond Road. The Q58 is a vital and crowded bus line, and it is exasperating to be at the mercy of extreme congestion when I ride it down Fresh Pond,” said Rider’s Alliance member Kerry Herlihy.