NYC finally goes ahead with Main Street busway in Flushing — six months late
Queens’s traffic-packed Main Street in Flushing is finally set to become the city’s latest bus-only strip — finally ending months of delays on a project that Mayor Bill de Blasio initially described as “urgent.”
The Department of Transportation told the local community board in a letter sent Friday that the project is set to move forward “in the next two weeks.”
City Hall’s original plan called for the third-of-a-mile stretch to be converted to bus-only traffic in June. It was supposed to be the first of five busways proposed to make buses more appealing during the COVID-19 pandemic, amid significant pressure from the MTA.
“I want to see this happen as quickly as possible because we need the help now given the crisis we’re in. We have to make it easier for people to get around,” de Blasio said on June 8.
Sitting at the end of the 7 train, Main Street is one of the city’s surface transit hotspots — the bus routes along the corridor serve a total of 150,000 people.
But the plan to convert the strip’s busiest blocks to bus-only ran into loud opposition from some business owners along the corridor, as well as term-limited local Councilman Peter Koo (D-Queens).
Other bus projects announced for the pandemic face similar obstacles.
Of the five busways announced in June, just Brooklyn’s Jay Street and now Main Street have actually come to fruition, Streetsblog reported Friday.
Of those projects, one is no longer a busway, another is delayed due to local opposition and a third isn’t coming until November — a month past the mayor’s initial deadline.
DOT also scrapped plans to make Fifth Avenue car-free and scaled back bus lanes for Staten Island’s Hylan Boulevard, Streetsblog said.
In separate public appearances on Friday, de Blasio and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg conceded that the city would fall short of the 20-mile bus lane goal set in June — which was far less than the 60 miles sought by the MTA.
“We wanted to do 20 miles by the end of the year. It looks like it’ll be closer to 17, which is a good achievement,” Hizzoner said during an interview with WNYC.
Trottenberg, meanwhile, told a transit advocacy video conference the city deserves credit for advancing the projects at all.
“This summer we’re not going to quite get to all of them. I apologize for that, but we will get to all the ones we’ve committed to I think sometime by next year,” she said during the event, hosted by Transportation Alternatives.
“There’s always going to be places where putting in a bus lane on a busy commercial corridor is going to be a complicated endeavor.”
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