DOT’s Permanent Queens Boulevard Redesign Promises to Speed Up the Sluggish Q60 Bus

The Q60 currently averages 6 mph. Thanks to expanded pedestrian space, the service can start running in Queens Boulevard's central roadway, speeding it up.

The Q60 bus will run in the central roadway instead of the Queens Boulevard service roads. Image: DOT
The Q60 bus will run in the central roadway instead of the Queens Boulevard service roads. Image: DOT

DOT is gearing up to cast its redesign of Queens Boulevard in concrete, and the next iteration of the project should speed up trips for bus riders on the Q60.

The basic blueprint for the redesign expanded pedestrian space and added protected bike lanes along the medians on Queens Boulevard’s service roads. It’s made a difference: Cycling has increased 141 percent on a 2.5-mile stretch in Woodside and Elmhurst, according to DOT, while pedestrian injuries have fallen 63 percent.

Capital construction on the Woodside segment of the project, which was installed with low-cost materials in 2015, is set to begin next year. DOT presented plans for the permanent version of the redesign to the Queens Community Board 2 transportation committee on Tuesday [PDF].

Riders on the Q60 will notice the biggest difference. Currently the route averages just 5.9 mph. It carries about 14,000 trips per day but ridership has fallen 8 percent since 2010, according to the Bus Turnaround Campaign.

With wider, more accessible pedestrian zones, the medians will be able to serve as bus stops, and the plan is to shift the Q60 from the Queens Boulevard service roads to the central roadway. Buses will no longer be traveling in the same lanes where drivers are parallel parking. In effect, bus riders will be in the express lanes.

The project does not include full, continuous bus lanes for the Q60, but it does call for a few bus lane segments.

At 65th Place, bus-only segments will let buses bypass traffic queues at the northeast and southwest corners. And a 550-foot eastbound bus lane segment will be carved out of unused street space around 69th Street (shown above).

The painted pedestrian space and bike lanes, meanwhile, will be elevated, turning the medians into more cohesive, greenway-like paths. However, DOT’s design shows the bike lane as black asphalt, not the more distinctive green of the low-cost version. There’s also no physical protection other than a mountable curb:

Image: DOT
Image: DOT

Construction gives DOT the opportunity to make a few other adjustments to street geometry. In between the main road and service roads, slip lanes will be adjusted to give drivers a clearer view of approaching cyclists. One negative, however, is the addition of a westbound slip lane approaching 70th Street/45th Avenue.

The city’s transportation capital projects are handled and executed by the Department of Design and Construction, which has a reputation for dragging projects out for years beyond the initial deadline. DOT’s Tuesday presentation did not provide a timetable for the project’s completion.

DOT reps will be showing the same presentation to the full board on April 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th Street.