September 15, 2016
With over 250,000 people passing through Times Square each day, the only other space in New York City that comes close to that amount of foot traffic is on Main Street in Flushing, Queens. Just 21 stops from Times Square on the 7 train, it’s not only the second most trafficked location in all five boroughs, but it intersects with the Long Island Railroad, 13 MTA bus routes and a handful of private bus lines. It’s also home to one of the largest Chinese American populations in the city with nearly 240,000 people, solidifying its status as a busy commercial hub. Currently, Main Street is crowded with cars and the sidewalks are too narrow to handle commuters and shoppers, 83 percent of whom arrive to Main Street by foot or public transit.
To reduce this congestion, DDC and the Department of Transportation (DOT) are teaming up to reconstruct the street and expand the sidewalk on four blocks of Main Street. The year-long project will include major infrastructure upgrades, underground utility relocation, the installation of a one-block Select Bus Service lane, and high-visibility crosswalks from 41st Avenue to 38th Avenue. The project falls under Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program and will bring relief to this high-volume pedestrian corridor by reducing vehicular traffic speeds and making it safer to live, work, and play in downtown Flushing.
“Working in very crowded streets is always a challenge but DDC tries very hard to accommodate the needs of residents, businesses, and traffic,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “In this case to minimize disturbances we will only work at night, and will coordinate with DOT to maintain continuous vehicle and pedestrian access at all streets and intersections. We also have a Community Construction Liaison who speaks both Mandarin and Chinese as the main point of contact with DDC. In the end, the project will deliver a rebuilt street with improved traffic flow, more pedestrian space, and better traffic safety in conjunction with Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative.”
Mohammad Sadiq, DDC’s Engineer-in-Charge on the project, wants to make safety a priority during construction. “It’s not easy to do underground construction and roadway resurfacing in an area with this many people,” he said. “Street vendors and kiosks will be temporarily moved, but the approximate 125 business surrounding the work will remain open.”
According to Sadiq, construction will be done between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. on weekends. Street vendors and kiosks will be temporarily moved, but the approximate 125 business surrounding the work will remain open.
In 2011, DOT developed a pilot project that included temporary striping and the placement of bollards 3-7 feet from the curb into the street. Bollards are the short, white posts that divert traffic from specific areas. DOT has created short-term, experimental designs likes this before, like the one in Times Square. The new Main Street, which is slated for completion in fall 2017, will widen the sidewalks from 17 feet to 22 feet, diminishing congestion alongside the commercial strips and at bus queues.