The vote to push back the amended changes that the DOT made, was done after hearing several businesses in the area express concern about how the bypass plan would negatively impact them.
At CB5’s June monthly meeting, borough commissioner of the DOT, Maura McCarthy and the director of freight and mobility unit, Stacey Hodge, explained the changes made after meeting with local businesses.
The changes involve making 57th Place – where the Clinton Diner sits – a two way.
“Originally it was going to be one way but it is now going to be a two-way after hearing from several businesses on corner,” Hodge said. “We are looking at what are the impacts to businesses for converting those two streets to one-way pairs.”
Hodges noted that Maspeth Avenue will no longer be turned into a one-way. It will remain a two-way street after the community asked the DOT to maintain it as such.
Maurice Avenue would still run northbound and 58th Street would run southbound. Hodges explained that this made the most sense after analyzing traffic conflicts at the five-leg intersection.
“There were 54 traffic conflicts at that intersection, 31 of them are crossing conflicts,” she said. “After looking at the plan, the intersection that gave us the most reduction was to convert 58th Street and Maurice into a one-way pair.”
The change would reduce the traffic conflicts to seven.
But Nick Diamantis, owner of the Clinton Diner, who has been in business for 25 years said that he has only seen one car accident in that time. “There has not been an increase in truck traffic at all, it seems like there is less,” he said. “I currently have easy access to my businesses from Maspeth Avenue and Maurice ave. I would lose that, so therefore the one-way streets are not going to improve it for my business.”
Jean Tanler of the Maspeth Industrial Business Association was grateful for the DOT's cooperation with the community and businesses but asked for more time before voting on the plan so that businesses like Junior's Cheesecake Factory on Maurice Avenue and the DOT could reach a resolution.
“Any way you restrict traffic to any business in that area, the way things have been the last few years, it will be detrimental to everyone,,” said Pat Coy of Pat's Service Station on Rust Street. “Any business that moves out of there hurts every one of us.”
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is sensitive to businesses. “I want to make sure the plan move ahead but also that customer base is not impacted. We don't want people to lose jobs because businesses are closing because of this plan,” she said.
The new plan will be discussed in July by Community Board 5. The DOT plans to implement the changes at the end of the summer but McCarthy noted that if the plan is not approved for the summer, it will have to wait another year.
“If it's not approved for us to implement in the summer, we don't have many other options,” she said. “We've studied this for three years, we've analyzed statistics and there's not a lot of different intersections on how to get trucks out of Maspeth.”