The city has set a fall timetable for finalizing designs to reroute trucks away from the commercial strip where residents say they have caused tons of traffic and pollution for years. All that remains is deciding on a viable Maspeth Bypass Plan - something that has eluded the Department of Transportation (DOT) since Community Board 5 first proposed a different truck route in 2001.
Community leaders have called for action on the project ever since.
At a January 26th public forum, Maura McCarthy, DOT's Queens commissioner, said the community plan will be considered alongside other proposals being developed by an outside consultant as part of a two-year study of Maspeth's truck troubles.
It is expected an alternative route will be chosen by October, said McCarthy, after which the city would move to establish an official truck bypass route. A capital project must be approved beforehand.
She acknowledged residents' frustration that the bypass project has taken this long, but said the end is in sight, though she did not give an estimate of when the plan might be implemented.
“The community is right, it has been promised this for a number of years,” said McCarthy. “We're moving as quickly as we can now.”
CB5's proposed bypass route would send trucks exiting the Long Island Expressway down Maurice Avenue and 58th Street - through Maspeth's Industrial Business Zone - placing Grand Avenue off-limits. Currently, hundreds of east and westbound trucks use Grand Avenue each day, slowing traffic for local drivers.
A CB5 survey conducted in 2001 found that 994 large commercial trucks use Grand Avenue each day between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. The figure - presumably higher today - does not include thousands of smaller trucks and vans.
In a statement, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said a new truck route was far overdue.
“It's time for the Department of Transportation to move forward with this project to drastically improve the flow of traffic for this overburdened area,” she said.
Vincent Arcuri, the chairman of CB5, said DOT is finally devoting serious attention to the issue. “I'm pleased that DOT has put in the resources for this,” he said. “We just have to keep them focused and talking to us.”
DOT is planning to present several alternative truck route options at a public forum in September.