By Eric Yun
Traversing down Liberty Avenue is going to be safer for pedestrians and drivers, but it will take some time for the drivers to get used to the changes the City Department of Transportation (DOT) will begin implementing in the coming weeks.
The stretch of Rockaway Boulevard and Liberty Avenue between 94th and 96th streets includes some of the most dangerous intersections in the borough. A study by the DOT showed an average of 41.4 injuries per year at those streets, which put it in the 99th percentile among Queens intersections.
The DOT has been meeting with the community over the last year, most recently in June, to discuss safety improvements to the area. The multifaceted plan calls for major changes to the confusing stretch of roads and intersections.
These changes include installing a concrete barrier on Cross Bay Boulevard that will prevent traffic from Liberty Avenue to enter the intersection. Liberty Avenue will be converted to a one-way street traveling eastbound between 93rd Street and Cross Bay Boulevard. The northbound left turn lane on Cross Bay Boulevard to Rockaway Boulevard will be extended and signal timing will be improved. Also, several medians and crosswalks will be installed or extended to help improve pedestrian safety, and transit-loading zones will be installed between 93rd and 94th Streets, east of 96th Street, and on the north and south sides of Liberty Avenue.
The DOT believes these changes will drasti- cally improve safety conditions at the confusing intersections, but will drivers be able to adapt?
Betty Braton, Chair of CB10, is not sure the DOT’s changes are the best for the area. “Following DOT’s presentation of these proposed changes to us back in June, we prepared and submitted our comments and viewpoint to DOT,” Braton said. While the DOT listened to community, Braton said the DOT is mov- ing forward with many of the same proposed changes offered in June.
“Although we appreciate DOT’s effort to address this very dangerous and problematic area to make it safer, the Board still has reservations from our lay-person perspective,” Braton said. “We will continue to offer suggestions to DOT as these changes move forward if problems arise.”
The DOT is planning a public walkthrough of the changes on October 18th between 3 and 6 p.m. The tour will begin at the south-west corner of Cross Bay Boulevard and Liberty Avenue and traverse through the 2-mile stretch up to the Van Wyck Expressway. Participants are welcome to join and leave the tour at any time to listen to the planned changes from DOT officials.