November 15, By Christian Murray
The Department of Transportation’s plan to redesign and reconstruct the roadways around the Hunters Point district will bring significant changes to Vernon Blvd between 50th Avenue and Borden Avenue.
The plan, which was approved by Community Board 2 earlier this month, will lead to the loss of 85 parking spaces on Vernon Blvd between 50th and Borden Avenues. Some of these lost spaces will be offset by the addition of 36 spots on a new parking lane on Borden Avenue and dozens of others in the greater neighborhood.
The DOT claims that when the street reconstruction is complete—which will incorporate the area of 44th Drive to Borden Avenue and Jackson Avenue to 5th Street—there will be a modest increase in the net number of parking spaces.
The mayor dedicated $29.6 million out the city’s $115 million Vision Zero for the first phase of the reconstruction. The first phase covers the cost of the redesign and a significant portion of the roadway reconstruction and new drainage system within.
The plan, which is extremely comprehensive, will bring sidewalk extensions, roadway medians, greenery, additional pedestrian crossings and bicycle lanes. However, the most visible change will take place near where Vernon Blvd/Jackson Avenue and Borden Avenue all meet.
The DOT plans to significantly expand the sidewalk by Old Hickory Park on Jackson Avenue all the way to Borden Avenue. The DOT would add some greenery and possible public art to the space.
Meanwhile, Vernon Mall, located between 51st and 50th Avenue, will lose the green space in the middle of the street where the benches are located and where the Christmas tree often goes up. The DOT would significantly extend the sidewalk on the east side of Vernon-between 50th and 51st Avenues–that would include public space.
The idea, according to the DOT, is to “improve traffic flow” along Vernon Boulevard and reduce congestion.
“We tried to keep as much parking as possible,” said Denise Keehan-Smith, chairwoman of Community Board 2 and the head of the board’s Transportation Committee. “We have gone over and over the plan for some time in order to do so. In the end, the changes will help reduce accidents based on the data DOT provided us with.”
The redesign will also bring significant changes to the roadways approaching the Pulaski Bridge (see DOT document below).
The plan will see an increase of parking spaces in some sections of Hunters Point. There will be 48 new spots on the south side of 48th Avenue between Vernon and Center Blvds.
The projected start date for the street redesign is likely to be somewhere between 2018 and 2019. The DOT is waiting for the Dept. of Environmental Protection to complete its drainage plan before going ahead. Some streets may have to be ripped up by the DEP for pipes to be put down.
The plan might also be altered depending on what transpires with the BQX and the route it takes.