Jamaica Vision Zero issues to go before Interagency Task Force on Southeast Queens

By LOUIS FLORES

Complaints about large and heavy commercial vehicles barreling through the residential streets of Jamaica, Queens, will be reviewed at the December meeting of the Interagency Task Force on Southeast Queens, the office of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has announced.

Some large and heavy commercial trucks can only make wide right turns onto 170th Street in Jamaica, Queens, by jumping their wheels onto the sidewalk, making use of sidewalks potentially dangerous.  These tire tracks were photographed on October 28, 2014.  Source :  Louis Flores

Some large and heavy commercial trucks can only make wide right turns onto 170th Street in Jamaica, Queens, by jumping their wheels onto the sidewalk, making use of sidewalks potentially dangerous.  These tire tracks were photographed on October 28, 2014.  Source :  Louis Flores

The office of the Queens Borough President had initially considered sending a letter to the commander of the New York Police Department's 103rd Precinct, to get clarification as to whether any enforcement action could be taken against the large and heavy commercial vehicles being driven through the residential streets in Jamaica.  However, a representative from the Queens Borough President's office said that it was decided to instead put the issue on the December meeting's agenda of the Interagency Task Force, because various stakeholders, including representatives from the NYPD and the New York City Department of Transportation, will be present.  Other government and non-governmental representatives, who take part in Interagency Task Force meetings, include the neighborhood’s New York City Council members, local community board officials, representatives from the New York City Departments of Sanitation and Buildings, officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Long Island Railroad, intermediaries from York College, and officials from the neighborhood’s Business Improvement Districts.

At such a meeting, a discussion could "provide insight into whether the truck traffic in question is legal and, if it is, talk about what can be done to make it illegal," said a representative from the Queens Borough President's office.

During an inspection tour conducted last month of one Jamaica, Queens, neighborhood, Progress Queens observed dangerous traffic and pedestrian conditions caused by unsafe incidents, including once witnessing a driver of an 18-wheel tractor trailer making a wide right turn from westbound Jamaica Avenue onto northbound 170th Street by jumping some of the tractor trailer's tires onto a sidewalk.  Other tire tracks from impossible wide right turns were visible on the sidewalk one block away from that intersection.  Other large and heavy commercial trucks photographed in rather rapid succession as they were being driven on 170th Street included cement trucks, armoured trucks, dump trucks, flat bed tow trucks, and MTA buses. 

The Web site Clean Up Jamaica Queens Now has long posted complaints about such dangerous commercial vehicular traffic in Jamaica, raising questions about the slow response to community demands for improvements under Mayor Bill de Blasio's "Vision Zero" initiative to make streets safer for drivers and pedestrians.

A traffic study of 2010 pedestrian accidents by the Department of Transportation showed that an intersection in Jamaica was tied for the second-most dangerous intersection in all of Queens for pedestrian accidents.  Within the last few months, two traffic accidents involving large and heavy vehicles have occurred in Jamaica, the first involving an MTA bus and the second a school bus.

"Since its first meeting in February, the task force has reviewed all of the quality-of-life complaints that have come in regarding southeast Queens and has directed a coordinated response to each of the complaints," read, in part, a statement provided by the Queens Borough President's office. 

The date of the December meeting has not yet been set.  Meetings of the Interagency Task Force are not open to the public, but Queens Borough President's office has posted information about such meetings on Facebook, including this post about an April meeting.  (Login may be required.)