A plan to speed traffic to JFK Airport by closing down two exit ramps on the Van Wyck Expressway is facing tough opposition from Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and three community boards.
Under the proposal, crafted by the city's Economic Development Corp. and Department of Transportation, the Jamaica Ave. off-ramp on the northbound side would be closed along with the Liberty Ave. off-ramp on the southbound side.
City officials have said the closings would reduce car accidents on the busy highway while cutting travel time to the airport.
"Frankly. I'm disappointed by the lack of outreach with regard to this plan, and I'm opposed to it," Marshall said last week.
"I'm also concerned about the traffic on the service roads along the closed portions and the ability to access Jamaica Hospital," she added.
EDC officials had originally told borough officials that they hoped to start the this plan this summer. But that timetable appears to have changed.
"We're listening to the community and listening to their concerns as we evaluate whether or not to move forward," said EDC spokesman David Lombino.
Jamaica Hospital, a Level 1 trauma center located on the southbound service road of the Van Wyck, sits in the middle of the proposed closure zone. Hospital officials have said they fear that closing exits will make it tougher for ambulances and staffers to get to the facility.
Marshall, along with representatives of Community Boards 9, 10 and 12 - whose neighborhoods would be affected by the plan - met with EDC and Transportation officials last week to hash out their concerns.
Although Jamaica Hospital has been in contact with the EDC about the plan since last year, local officials said they were notified only in recent weeks.
Members of Community Board 9 passed a resolution opposing the plan before even meeting with city officials.
"My board has not even had an opportunity to hear what they had planned," said Betty Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10.
"If you are going to do something like that, you need to talk to the community. It's not just airport traffic that uses the Van Wyck Expressway," she said.