108th Street Chaos

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Dear Editor:

I am a resident of Beach 108th Street. I along with dozens of my neighbors (residents) along the Bungalow side of Beach 108th are very troubled with the radical reduction of the S/B roadbed from 40’ to 27’ along this major heavily travelled roadway. Beach 108th serves as a primary thoroughfare for local residents, beach goers, Rockaway Hotel guests / patrons, including emergency response vehicles (Police, Fire, EMS), Sanitation, NYC Parks as well as local utility vehicles. Furthermore Beach 108th is one of only three thoroughfares (Beach 116 & Beach 94/95) in a one mile stretch which run direct from Beach Channel Drive to Shore Front Parkway (Bay - Boardwalk). Our major concern with the redesign is the extreme narrowing of the roadway which poses a potential public safety hazard (delayed response time) for emergency vehicles responding to emergency calls for service to the beach / boardwalk areas local residents who reside in the many large Shore Front Apt. complexes.

When this Capital Improvement Project was first proposed by DOT in 2018 / 2019 at a couple of community-based meetings, many of the local residents were excited about the facelift for Beach 108th. We had seen the computer generated or artist renditions of the project on DOT’s PowerPoint Presentations, which illustrated improvements, to the decaying sidewalks, potholed streets and overgrown center Island.  However, the PowerPoint presentations and final drawings never specified or identified the severe reduction of the south bound (SB) roadway.

In a recent conference call (11/22/21) arranged by Assemblywoman Amato’s office, it was acknowledged by a couple of community representatives who were involved in the early discussions of the project that there was never a discussion of the substantial reduction of the roadway. It wasn’t until some local residents conducted their own measurements of the roadway after the new center island was constructed seven feet west into the existing roadway combined with the planned six foot expansion of the west sidewalk (Bungalow side) when it became apparent that this once major roadway would be reduced to a 27 foot roadway.

Shortly after discovering this egregious loss of the roadway, Assemblywoman Amato’s office arranged for an on-site meeting (11/1/21) with Reps from DOT and NYC Department Design & Construction. After voicing our concerns about the street reduction, we were given drawings of the street, but again it failed to identify any actual measurements. None of those in attendance from DOT and DDC had any decision making ability and that we would need to go through the Assemblywoman to reach the decision makers.

The following day, I submitted a three-page bulleted format listing our concerns and with potential recommendations and proposals for DOT and DDC via Assemblywoman Amato’s office. We received a response back from DOT’s Queens Planner that DOT engineers had prepared the plans and that the street size was comparable with other streets in the boroughs. We disagree that 27’ is an acceptable footprint, since just around the block, Beach 109th, a much less travelled street which only traverses one block (Shore Front Pkwy - Rockaway Beach Blvd) would be three feet wider at 30 feet. Similarly, Beach 110 and Beach 111, both of which are dead end streets and traverse one block (Boardwalk - Rockaway Beach Blvd.) are 30’ wide.

During the 11/22 conference call, we were informed by representatives from Assemblywoman Amato’s office who have been very supportive of our concerns, that DOT has stated the plans have been finalized and that their plans were moving forwarded.

Our proposal recommended that the west side sidewalk remain with its current dimensions and not be expanded, therefore keeping the street to 33 feet wide or modify their sidewalk expansion to three feet, which would make the Beach 108th footprint 30 feet, which would be consistent with the neighboring streets. It is our belief since the sidewalk and street have not been excavated / milled nor has cement been poured or street repaved that there is still time to consider our concerns and proposals.

We wish that DOT and DDC community outreach was as impressive in the Planning & Progress Report stages as they were in plastering the block with notices about NO Parking during the construction.

 Drew Capul

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