Additional NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agents, New Left-Turn Lane, New Markings Designed to Enhance Safety and Traffic Flow in Downtown Core

QUEENS, NY – At a meeting of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s Flushing Commons Task Force this afternoon, NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced several new measures to enhance pedestrian safety and help alleviate traffic congestion in the vicinity of Flushing Commons in Downtown Flushing.

The new measures include:

The addition of traffic enforcement agents on weekdays is effective today at the first two locations; the new left-turn lane and the new markings will be forthcoming.  The measures are in response to concerns raised by the Task Force and community at-large about safety and mobility in the downtown core and surrounding area, which account for among the densest concentration of pedestrians killed or seriously injured in crashes throughout the borough.

“I am pleased to join Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to announce the implementation of traffic enforcement agents and dedicated left turns near the Flushing Commons development to improve pedestrian safety and help traffic flow better in bustling Flushing,” said DOT Commissioner POLLY TROTTENBERG.

“The Task Force appreciates the commitment by the DOT, the NYPD and the developers to consider all possible measures to enhance traffic flow and pedestrian safety in Flushing’s downtown core,” said Queens Borough President MELINDA KATZ.  “These actions are sound steps that demonstrate the DOT’s commitment, and continual engagement by all stakeholders is necessary to keep the economic engine of Downtown Flushing running amidst the building pains of development.”

The Task Force, working with DOT officials, will continue to monitor the impact of the construction. DOT will explore additional potential measures recommended by the Task Force today, including:

“I am pleased that the Borough President, DOT, NYPD and the F&T Group are collaborating to make this project run more smoothly and safely and I hope the new traffic pattern will help relieve congestion around Flushing Commons. I will continue to monitor the traffic and congestion issue as construction continues and look forward to ongoing collaboration with the DOT, NYPD and the F&T Group on this issue,” said Senator TOBY ANN STAVISKY.

“I appreciate Borough President Katz for bringing us together to work on improving the ongoing traffic and safety issues surrounding the Flushing Commons project,” said Assemblymember RON KIM. “I also thank the F&T Group for always being part of the solution. We have many ongoing issues in downtown Flushing and I feel confident that through this collaboration, we can work together in moving forward.”

“Today’s meeting was a good first step towards easing the traffic congestion around Flushing Commons,” said Councilmember PETER KOO. “I am pleased with some of the proposals that DOT discussed, specifically the inclusion of traffic enforcement agents at key intersections.  However, a lot more work needs to be done as there are still major concerns that need to be addressed. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and all community stakeholders on this very urgent matter.”

“The congestion issues will not be solved overnight, but these are the little steps that, undertaken together, will be instrumental in alleviating the site-specific issues, which will ultimately bring us to our goal of improving the situation for everyone,” said Community Board 7 Vice Chair CHUCK APELIAN.

Traffic congestion has chronically plagued Downtown Flushing, but has been exacerbated since the start of the Flushing Commons construction project last year, according to local stakeholders.  Some of the congestion has been recently compounded by the closure of entrance and exits on Union Street, the MTA bus terminus recently placed on 128th Street between 37th and 39th Avenues, and the casino coach bus stops on 39th Avenue between Main and Union Streets.

Borough President Katz’s Flushing Commons Task Force facilitates continual dialogue between city agencies, the developers, the Downtown Flushing Business Improvement District, the Union Street Business Association, elected officials and local business, resident and other area stakeholders in the interest of alleviating the Flushing Commons construction impacts on the surrounding community.  Today was the seventh meeting of the Task Force since it was launched by Borough President Katz last year.

In addition to DOT Commissioner Trottenberg and officials, also in attendance at today’s Task Force meeting were: Luke DiPalma and Buckley Yung of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA); Anthony Iuliano of the New York City Department of Buildings; Howard Pollack of the NYC Department of Design & Construction (DDC); Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, Detective Kevin O’Donnell and Officer Joseph McCall of the NYPD 109th Precinct; Gene Kelty, Charles Apelian and Marilyn Bitterman of Community Board 7; Dian Song Yu of the Downtown Flushing Business Improvement District; Ikhwan Rim, President of the Union Street Business Association; Chris Kui of Asian Americans for Equality; Michael Meyers and Howard Hsu of the F&T Group; Glen Johnson of Tishman Speyer; Rick Sondik of the Rockefeller Group; Daryl Finn of Skyview Center/Related Management; representatives for State Senator Toby Stavisky, Assemblymember Ron Kim and Councilmember Peter Koo.

Since construction began on Flushing Commons last year, DOT has been monitoring the area and discussing safety improvements with the developer (F&T Group). In December 2014, DOT amended the permit to require a pedestrian walkway along Union Street as well as two pedestrian managers. The pedestrian walkway is currently in a parking lane, which helps enhance traffic flow.

Flushing is a Vision Zero Priority Area, with the second largest pedestrian volumes in the entire city.  Flushing is a central transportation hub in Queens, with 23 MTA/NYCT buses, the 7 subway line and the LIRR train, many intercity and intracity bus carriers, commuter vans and taxis, and freight and industry truck operators.