Announcing Federal Funds for Queens Plaza Transit & Environmental Improvements

Apr 15, 2005
Press Release
 QUEENS PLAZA - Today, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (Queens, Manhattan) presented an enlarged check for $10.6 million to Iris Weinshall, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation and to Amanda M. Burden, Director of the New York City Planning Department, to improve Queens Plaza’s transportation system in ways that reduce traffic pollution, clean the environment, and provide better bikeways and pedestrian paths for area residents.  

(More on Queens Plaza Rebuilding Project)

Joining Maloney, Weinshall, and Burden at the event were: New York State Senator George Onorato; Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan; Gayle Baron, President, Long Island City Business Development Corporation; Jerry Walsh, President, Dutch Kills Civic Association; Joseph Conley, Chairperson, Community Board 2
George Delis, District Manager, Community Board 1; Seth Bornstein, Director of Economic Development for the Office of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall; and Babu Veeregowda, Chief Traffic Analyst and Senior Associate for the Bike and Pedestrian Improvements Project.

Congresswoman Maloney said, “By investing in Queens Plaza, we can make it the foundation for economic growth in Western Queens and a place where the quality of life for Long Island City resident is improved enormously. New business initiatives are a great help to Long Island City, but they must be matched with neighborhood improvements for residents, including a cleaner environment and user-friendly transit systems. Today’s $10.6 million in federal funds for Queens Plaza will improve the environment and transit system for Long Island City residents. If Long Island City is to become the next great commercial and residential sector of New York City, we need to transform Queens Plaza so it is enjoyable for residents and visitors alike.”

Commissioner Weinshall said, “I'm confident that this project will enhance safety and the overall quality of life for those who live, work or visit Long Island City and I commend the Congresswoman for making this project happen. The community should be very proud to have her as their representative.”

New York City Planning Director Burden said, “Rebuilding this forbidding roadway is critical to the City's efforts to re-develop Long Island City. We are grateful to Carolyn Maloney for obtaining funding that will enable us not only to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, but also to keep auto traffic moving on Queens Plaza. The landscaping of the new open spaces will help transform and redefine Queens Plaza as an inviting gateway to Long Island City.”

Congresswoman Maloney obtained $1 million of the funds announced today through a Fiscal Year 2005 transportation appropriation. Those funds will implement the first phase of larger reconstruction plans for Queens Plaza. Specifically, the initial $1 million will help advance the Queens Plaza Bike and Pedestrian Improvement Project, part of the larger Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funded project for Queens Plaza.

The additional $9.6 million in federal funds were obtained by the Department of City Planning through the CMAQ program, part of the federal transportation budget approved by Congress. Overall plans for the Queens Plaza CMAQ project are to redesign a 250-foot wide roadway that serves as the front door to Queens and Manhattan. The New York City Department of City Planning will be managing the project.

The principle objective of the project is to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality conditions along Queens Plaza by encouraging mass transit and other alternative forms of transportation such as bicycling and walking. This will be achieved by enhancing the pedestrian environment, creating bike lanes, and reorganized traffic lanes.

The second phase of the project, currently underway, will develop a design for new pedestrian and bike amenities that will be environmentally responsive and will include new and increased lighting, landscaping, street furniture, crosswalks, public art, and directional signs.

Congresswoman Maloney noted that Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan spearheaded the creation of the CMAQ program which emphasizes the environmentally sound design of mass transit systems. The program, which helps areas of high urban density to construct and enhance transit systems to improve the environment, has been a great resource for New York.

Congresswoman Maloney said, “Senator Moynihan authored and almost single-handedly advanced these great reforms of our federal transportation funding system, allowing urban areas with high levels of mass transit to benefit more equally with regions that rely heavily on highways and roads. In 1991, when Senator Moynihan’s provisions were included in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA or ice tea), he ushered in a new era by overhauling a system that for decades had focused almost entirely on highway construction. New York City, with the highest mass transit ridership in the nation, has benefitted greatly by Senator Moynihan’s achievements and it is appropriate today as we announce millions to improve Queens Plaza that we honor his visionary efforts.”

In 2001, Congresswoman Maloney, together with Congressman Joseph Crowley (NY), obtained $250,000 for Long Island City Links, a planning study managed by the Department of City Planning that will develop recommendations for streetscape improvements, bike lanes, and buses and shuttle buses for the greater Long Island City neighborhood.