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Downtown Flushing streets have traffic changed over weekend

A long-awaited new traffic scheme has gone into effect in downtown Flushing and car traffic has not screeched to a halt, despite the warnings of some of its harshest critics.

The changes, which come as the $850 million Flushing Commons project continues to wind its way through the final steps of obtaining city approval, were conceived as a means to lessen the negative impact of the many projects that have been or are slated to be built throughout the booming neighborhood.

Starting Sunday, no turns were allowed from Main Street onto Roosevelt Avenue, left turns were prohibited from Northern Boulevard onto Main Street and from Main Street onto 37th Avenue except for buses and left turns were prohibited from Union Street onto Northern Boulevard.

For years downtown Flushing has been a hazard and a headache for drivers and pedestrians, particularly since it became more urban in recent decades.

The intersection of Union Street and Northern Boulevard is the most dangerous in the entire borough for pedestrians, and the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt´╗┐ Avenue is tied with Manhattan’s 34th Street and Sixth Avenue for the third-highest traffic volume in the entire city, according to city Department of Transportation Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy. Only Times Square and 34th Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan have more traffic.

Police officers have been instructed to give drivers a little bit of slack for a short while with minor traffic violations that could be the result of unfamiliarity with the new scheme. The grace period will phase out as drivers adjust to the new patterns.

City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) is facilitating the creation of a downtown Flushing traffic task force to evaluate the traffic plan and make suggestions about any needed changes. It will include Koo, representatives from Borough President Helen Marshall’s office and others and will be implemented at the same time as the new traffic plan.

On Saturday, traffic will be temporarily disrupted in much of downtown Flushing as a result of a half-marathon race beginning in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The racers will wind their way through portions of the downtown area, closing the College Point Boulevard exit of the Van Wyck Expressway, as well as some streets in the area, police said.

College Point Boulevard will be closed from 31st Avenue to the Long Island Expressway and other areas will be affected, including the Sky View Parc development, which will be closed for the three-hour period and instead be used as a route for people making U-turns, according to police.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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