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Traffic sailed along new routes through a previously unregulated, five-way intersection in Maspeth last week, but residents and business owners said a new truck bypass plan caused pure mayhem elsewhere.
“On my first experience going down 58th Street, three cars were coming head on,” said Nick Diamantis, whose family owns the Clinton Diner, at 56-26 Maspeth Ave. “One was a New York City DEP vehicle.”
Diamantis said there has already been two accidents in the area since new traffic patterns were introduced Oct. 1.
One resident who drives to the Clinton Diner every day for lunch tried to make a turn that is not allowed anymore. Instead of reaching his destination in seconds, he was guided on a 20-minute detour.
The bypass plan was designed to route trucks that enter and exit the Long Island Expressway around the commercial and largely residential portion of Maspeth. Instead of using Grand and Flushing avenues, the trucks now travel down 58th Street and travel up Maurice Avenue.
The plan, developed by the city Department of Transportation, was approved in July by Community Board 5 after nearly a decade of debate.
The city DOT put up signs indicating new traffic patterns in the area, although in one confusing instance a one-way sign was struck and turned in the wrong direction.
Traffic police were stationed at particularly hairy intersections to help frustrated motorists find their way.
“Bad idea,” screamed one driver as he sped past a traffic cop stationed at the five-way intersection of Maurice and Maspeth avenues, 56th Terrace and 58th Street.
Tony Xu, a manager at The Plant Milk Deli, at 57-54 Maspeth Ave., said a new traffic island at the intersection prevents potential customers from turning into his parking lot.
“I’ve lost a lot of business,” he said. “At least 30 percent.”
The front picture windows of the Clinton Diner face the intersection, where workers said they have had a view of the chaos in the days after the patterns were changed.
Eileen Nevarez, an employee at the diner, said cars had been cutting across a gas station parking lot to circumvent the new patterns and traffic has been backed up leading to the LIE in the mornings.
“People are going to get fed up and get stuck and then they’re not going to come,” she said as a van pulled a three-point turnaround in the intersection to avoid driving around the block.
Junior’s Cheesecake, at 58-42 Maurice Ave., will have to live with the decision, even though the plan has made operations at the factory more difficult.
“I have no choice,” said Junior’s Jason Schwartz general manager.
Trucks can no longer use load docks at Junior’s because of the new traffic patterns, so he had to switch to outdoor loading.
Schwartz said that while the changes are frustrating, the factory is not actively looking to move out of the neighborhood.
In an e-mail circulated throughout the community and obtained by TimesLedger Newspapers, DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy said an adjustment period is typically necessary after changing traffic flow patterns and that NYPD traffic officers have been posted and were set to remain until Saturday.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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