“It took away most of the parking for outside vendors to park, it took away parking from Super Lumber, it's just crazy, it's mayhem on this street now,” said Maureen Prainito, a manager at Petro Heat.
The Maspeth truck bypass went into effect on October 1, 2011, after 10 years of planning and hearings.
Maurice Avenue is now a one-way northbound and 58th Street is now a one-way southbound. Truck traffic from the LIE is now being diverted to 58th Street along 55th Drive as a way to reduce the heavy truck traffic on Grand Avenue – something which has long been a heated topic of complaint among many residents.
Another business on 59th and Maurice said they notice that the impact of the traffic has been completely different.
A representative of Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley attending the meeting told the businesses that they have also received complaints from residents.
“I've seen people driving down one-way streets the wrong way,” Prainito said.
DOT has said that it would take time for drivers to adjust to the new flow of traffic, but the industrial businesses still remain concerned.
“What we don't want to see happen is an accident that could hurt people before they start to listen,” said Nancy Carin, executive director of the Business Outreach Center Network (BOCN), a nonprofit based in Corona that provides economic development assistance to industrial businesses and that helped form MIBA.
She said that the nonprofit will discuss concerns with other businesses and with DOT to facilitate conversation.
Crowley's representative said that the councilwoman's office has been working with DOT on the Maspeth Bypass and is planning a followup discussion with DOT and Community Board 5.
“This is not just an issue isolated to Maspeth,” said a representative from Councilwoman Diana Reyna's office. He noted that the parking is also a problem in the North Brooklyn area, which Reyna represents.
“Right now, we're dealing with the same issues in Greenpoint,” he said. “It's an issue that is reoccurring.”
Carin said that the impact on industrial businesses need to be front and center.
“These are major employers,” she said. “The feedback in the near term is very important after changes such as these are made.”
But some businesses feel that the bypass is helping to ease traffic.
“At the LIE, Maurice Avenue exit, since the one-way system has been implemented it has eased the congestion,” said Walter Leighton of J&R Electronics. “Traffic would back up onto the highways eastbound and westbound and it has seemed to ease that gridlock. It was just deplorable in the mornings and afternoons.”
But Prainito was in disagreement.
“When I try and make that right on 55th Drive when all those tractor-trailers are all waiting to get into Coca-Cola, I can sit through three lights before I get anywhere,” she said.
She said it's almost making her want to leave, but she just invested $300,000 into the building.
Junior's Cheescake manufacturer Alan Rosen has said that he might have to leave Queens if the bypass problems continue.
“In the entire area, if there is a truck backing in you're lucky if they get in on the third try,” said David Finkel of Davis & Warshow.
And with the lack of public transportation in the area, Finkel admitted that an outside member of the company's board of directors implied that they should look to move their corporate offices.
“It's not what we want to do,” he said.
Leighton said he feels “like a taxi service” because since transportation is lacking around the area, and knowing how long it can take to get into Maspeth, he offers to pick up clients and visitors from Long Island City.
MIBA's kickoff meeting, which was held on Thursday, January 26, was a success for Jean Tanler, the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone coordinator, Bob Reddan, the chair of the MIBA steering committee, and Carin.
MIBA formed in early 2011 as a project of the Business Outreach Center Network. In June, the steering committee was formed.
“We're building a voice for the community – a collective voice,” Carin said.
MIBA, along with BOCN plan to have meetings with DOT to discuss their traffic concerns, as well as with the MTA and even the LIRR to work on getting more transportation in the area.
Sanitation and snow concerns, as well as parking tickets, were also discussed. Tanler and Carin said that they will try their best to work out all of the problems of the Maspeth industrial businesses.
“It's the beginning of what having an association means,” Carin said.
The next Maspeth Industrial Business Association meeting will be held on March 6 at 1 p.m. at Maspeth Ale House on Grand Avenue.