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Q45 route change riles CB 5

Glendale leaders blasted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's decision to move forward with a rerouting of the Q45 bus that will bring it down 80th Street to the Shops at Atlas Park, contending the change will add more traffic to an already heavily congested area.

Community Board 5 voted 39-1 at its June board meeting against the rerouting of the bus. But the MTA announced earlier this month that it planned to put a new route into effect Aug. 31 that will bring the Q45 bus to Atlas Park, at 80-00 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, where it will turn around and resume its previous route.

Community board members said they felt their objections had been ignored.

"It seems to me they can find a way to reroute a bus when the boss' son is involved," said board member Michael O'Kane, referring to Damon Hemmerdinger, Atlas Park's owner and son of MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger. "I think the MTA takes the word 'authority' in their title a little too seriously. It's an outrage."

O'Kane, who lives at 88th Street and Cooper Avenue near the shopping center, said it often takes up to 45 minutes to get from Cooper Avenue to Metropolitan Avenue along 80th Street due to traffic.

Damon Hemmerdinger declined to comment on the new route.

Under the new route, the bus will follow 80th Street from Eliot Avenue to Cooper Avenue, using existing Q29 stops south of Furmanville Avenue, the MTA said. The bus will then turn around at Atlas Park before resuming its previous route.

"We expect that the ridership on this improved route will be robust," an MTA statement read. "If it proves to be less than anticipated, we can always revisit this decision."

The MTA said the new route would also provide Jackson Heights and Elmhurst residents with access to the retail center, as well as provide connection to the E, F, G, R, V and No. 7 trains at the 74th Street-Roosevelt Avenue station and the Q32, Q33, Q47 and Q49 buses.

Gary Giordano, CB 5's district manager, said community residents have not been supportive of the new route, especially after the Q54 bus was rerouted last summer to the shopping center.

"Now, there will be another bus," he said. "There wasn't much of [the board's] constituency in favor of this. People along the route think 80th Street is already congested, so to put another bus along there would be overwhelming."

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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