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Underpass redo could be traffic nightmare

Elected officials and the Glendale community want 74th Street near Cooper Avenue to stay one-way southbound. Photo by Howard Koplowitz
TimesLedger Newspapers

Three western Queens legislators are urging the city to reconsider its plans to change the direction of 74th Street in Glendale as part of the Cooper Avenue underpass project.

The street is currently one-way southbound and the city Department of Transportation wants to change it to one-way northbound near the Cooper Avenue underpass, but the elected officials say plans to expand nearby PS/IS 119 conflict with the agency’s proposal.

The DOT is facing resistance to its plans from City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and state Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven).

The DOT and the city Department of Design and Construction are starting a $5.7 million project to rehabilitate the retaining walls of the underpass and a conversion of 74th Street to one-way northbound.

Crowley wrote to Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy late last month to ask the agency to scrap its plans.

“I strongly urge the DOT to listen to the wishes of the community and postpone the proposed change for 74th Street,” the councilwoman wrote. “The attempt to calm traffic and improve safety is admirable, but the DOT is using outdated numbers.”

The city Department of Education plans to expand PS/IS 119, which would change the schools that feed into the school along with traffic patterns that Crowley said butts with DOT’s plans.

“The study no longer applies to the traffic patterns and current organization of the school,” Crowley wrote. “I am concerned this will cause numerous unintended consequences and by restudying the area when the school is near or close to full capacity we will have a better understanding of the effects.”

Miller said local businesses in the area, many of which have been operating in the neighborhood for two or three generations, also oppose the city’s plans.

“Residents have circulated a petition against this proposal. Any street conversion, such as this one, should be brought to the attention of the community for more intensive scrutiny,” the assemblyman said. “The local residents are opposed to this plan. The plan is seeking to remedy a safety situation that may not even exist once PS/IS 119 is converted. I am calling on the DOT to cancel this planned conversion.”

Addabbo said the proposal “will be detrimental to the small businesses that have been operating in the community for generations.

“It will also increase traffic volumes on the surrounding streets, making them more dangerous for the pedestrians and schoolchildren that use those streets on a daily basis,” he said. “I strongly urge the DOT to reconsider this proposal and yield to the community of Glendale by not disrupting their safety and quality of life.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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