Thursday, January 6, 2011

Not Business as Usual for Liberty Avenue by Bryan Yurcan - Queens Chronicle

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s owners on Liberty Avenue between 93rd Street and Cross Bay Boulevard say the changes implemented by the DOT in October have discouraged customers from coming to the area.

The city Department of Transportation in October implemented a plan designed to ease traffic on several intersections on Liberty Avenue and make them more pedestrian friendly.
But for some businesses in that vicinity, the project has hurt the bottom line.

The DOT’s plan to reduce congestion at the complex Woodhaven Boulevard, Crossbay Boulevard, Rockaway Boulevard and Liberty Avenue intersection included converting Liberty to a one-way eastbound street between Crossbay and 93rd Street and providing room for back-in angle parking spaces on that block.

A concrete barrier was also placed along Crossbay to prevent Liberty traffic from crossing through the intersection. The northbound lane for left turns onto Rockaway were extended and signal timing was adjusted to improve traffic flow.

But for some Liberty businesses, specifically those on the block that was converted to a one-way street, the changes have meant fewer customers coming through the doors.

Uncle Steve Discount Bargain Outlet, which is located on Liberty between 93rd and Crossbay, has a makeshift banner hanging in front of the store indicating that it is going out of business.

The owner, Steve, who didn’t wish to give his last name, said that the shops’ closing is about 50 percent due to the new traffic patterns.

“It has absolutely killed business,” he said. “So many less people come around here now.”

The owner said that many people who used to wait by the Rockaway Boulevard A train stop to pick up friends or spouses used to pop into stores on the block while they waited.

But with the concrete barrier now preventing access from the block to Crossbay, most people don’t do that anymore, he said.

Tommy’s Pizza & Restaurant, which sits a few storefronts down from the bargain store, also has seen a decrease in business since the new traffic plan was implemented.

Kimberly Liverpool, a manager there, said the business has seen a drop of around $200 a week in sales since the changes.

She said customers find it “a hassle” to come to the area now, and that the back-in parking added when the street was converted to one-way hasn’t even added that much extra parking space.

“A customer told me he feels like this is out of his way now,” Liverpool said.

An inquiry to the DOT was not returned as of press time.
Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton said this issue “is absolutely on the radar” of the community board.

Braton said she has a meeting scheduled with DOT officials next week to discuss the concerns of business owners and see if modifications to the current plan are possible.

Braton said the DOT has been helpful in working with CB 10 on the matter.

“They reached out to us and are trying to address some concerns,” she said.