Long Island City’s Streets Need to Catch Up With a Growing Neighborhood

Jackson Avenue cuts diagonally into 11th Street right where it intersects with the Pulaski Bridge approach, a nightmare for all users. Image: Google Maps
Jackson Avenue cuts diagonally into 11th Street right where it intersects with the Pulaski Bridge approach, creating a hostile environment for walking and biking. Image: Google Maps

Long Island City is booming with new residences, and more are on the way with the massive Hunters Point South development. As the area becomes home to more people, its streets need to catch up.

On Wednesday night, Council Member Van Bramer and DOT hosted a public workshop to discuss how $8 million in capital funds can be put to use redesigning the neighborhood’s streets. About 25 Long Island City residents and businesspeople attended.

With the Queensboro Bridge, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and the Pulaski Bridge on its borders, Long Island City is overrun with more traffic than most neighborhoods. Many industrial business remain, leading to heavy truck traffic, particularly on Jackson Avenue and Vernon Boulevard. And with scant on-street parking regulations, Manhattanites have used Long Island City as a free parking lot for decades. Residents at the meeting said drivers routinely travel far above the speed limit on the neighborhood’s streets.

DOT has been studying the area since January and plans to develop a preliminary plan for the neighborhood to be presented early next year. At the workshop, attendees split into three groups and worked with DOT reps to discuss streets and intersections most in need of improvement. “We’re looking for opportunities to have the different modes have a better way to get around the neighborhood,” DOT Queens Borough Planner Samantha Dolgoff said.

LIC Residents used large maps provided by DOT to make suggestions for street improvements in the neighborhood. Photo: David Meyer
Residents pinpointed suggestions for street improvements on large maps. Photo: David Meyer

Most attendees at last night’s meeting named the Pulaski Bridge approach, Vernon Boulevard, and Jackson Avenue as their top priorities. DOT is nearly finished installing a protected bike lane on the Pulaski Bridge, but the intersection on the Queens side of the bridge is still a dangerous asphalt expanse, no matter how you get around.

Jackson Avenue, the location of MOMA P.S. 1, one of Queens’ most popular cultural attractions, has few pedestrian crossings. Jackson merges with Vernon Boulevard at its southern end, where there is a playground, pedestrian mall, and a number of retail businesses and restaurants, but workshop attendees said the area lacks safe conditions for walking, especially for families with children.

The project will also focus on adding more green to a grey landscape. One L.I.C. resident, Mary Torres, who also works as a realtor in the area, said that the neighborhood’s appearance affects both her business and quality of life. “Certain streets [in the area] are more attractive than others,” she said. “Residents of Long Island City should have a welcoming place to live.”

Van Bramer said the workshop will directly inform the city’s capital project. “Working together with the community we were able to pinpoint specific locations throughout the Long Island City/Hunters Point area where traffic safety can and will be improved using our $8 million investment into the neighborhood,” he said.