On 6th June, Councilman Rory I. Lancman (D-Queens), Assemblyman David I. Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and a representative of Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens) joined community leaders from the Jamaica Muslim Center (JMC) in Queens to celebrate the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) decision to convert 168th street between Gothic Drive and Highland Avenue into a one-way street.
The demand for better traffic safety on 168th street gained particular momentum this April after sixteen-year-old Mahmudur Sarkar, a student at JMC, was struck and critically injured in front of the school. The accident was one of several that have happened over the last few years in the area around JMC, where residents come for schooling, worship and community events. The corridor is also highly trafficked by thousands of students commuting to and from Jamaica High School Campus and Thomas Edison High School each day.
Elected officials and leaders from JMC had petitioned for improved traffic safety protocol on 168th street for years. After studying the street’s mechanics and determining that its narrow width (26’ wide) created congestion and safety issues for residents, DOT ultimately recommended a one-way conversion in a letter sent to Community Board 8, dated May 30th, 2014.
Elected officials and community leaders have praised the one-way conversion as a pathway to make the street safer and more appropriate for the foot traffic the Center attracts.
Councilman Lancman hailed the decision as an important step in improving pedestrian safety in response to the needs of the community. “I’m glad Mayor de Blasio is taking serious action to make the streets around the Jamaica Muslim Center safer. This is an important step in realizing the Mayor’s Vision Zero plan.”
“I applaud the DOT for readily responding to the dangerous conditions on 168th street,” said Assemblyman David I. Weprin. “Their proposal for a one-way will dramatically improve safety conditions for members of the Jamaica Muslim Center, neighboring high school students, and everyone who walks these streets. I hope that this victory will encourage further cooperation between community leaders and government officials.”
“The decision to convert 168th street into a one-way street is long overdue,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “However, we’re extremely pleased that the DOT has finally heard our concerns and will now move forward to make this dangerous roadway safer. The agency’s plan will go a long way towards improving pedestrian safety, and I urge officials to quickly implement it. We will continue to push for additional safety improvements as well. As we applaud the extension of this one-way zone, we continue to send our thoughts and prayers to Mahmudur Sarkar and his family.”
“It’s optimal when the community and government work hand-in-hand in identifying risks and creating solutions to expediently enhance safety in our neighborhoods, especially for pedestrians who are most vulnerable in densely utilized streets,” said John Liu, former Comptroller and former Council Transportation Committee Chair. “I join our local leaders in applauding Community Board 8 and the Department of Transportation for taking such swift and collaborative action.”
“As a public official and concerned community member I welcome this action by NYC DOT; the community has sought this for several years and we want to avoid any more hazards,” said former New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie. “It brings an important measure of traffic and pedestrian safety for community members who worship and attend programs at the Jamaica Muslim Center.”
Leaders from JMC were grateful for the accomplishment. JMC President Dr. Wahedur Rahman said: “We applaud the response from the City and our elected officials, especially Councilman Rory Lancman, Assemblyman David Weprin and Congresswoman Grace Meng, who have been working very hard behind the scenes and were instrumental in moving this forward. Now we need to see real results as soon as possible and make our street safe.”
JMC General Secretary Akhter Hussain said: “The decision to convert the street to one-way street with other traffic safety measures by the NYC DOT is a very important step towards protecting pedestrians and saving lives. We appreciate the hard work by elected officials, community leaders and activists, Jamaica Muslim Center worshipers and the media for their dedication for this important cause.”
“The decision to convert the street to one-way is an important step towards protecting pedestrians on 168th street,” said Mohammed Tohin, a member of JMC and Community Board 8. “Thanks to the work of our elected officials: Councilman Lancman, Assemblyman Weprin, and Congresswoman Meng, our community will be able walk safer streets.”
Community activists from the Alliance of South Asian American Labor (ASAAL) praised the decision: “Since its inception ASAAL has done many great things for the community,” said Maf Misbah Uddin, Founder and President of ASAAL. “The conversion of a dangerous two-way street to a much safer one-way venue in front of the Jamaica Muslim Center on 168th Street is the most recent example. ASAAL’s Women’s Chairman, Mazeda Uddin, deserves tremendous credit, along with Assemblyman David Weprin and Councilman Rory Lancman.”
“The one-way conversion will decrease the chances of having another accident,” said Ali Najmi of ASAAL. “Pedestrian safety near houses of worship and community centers should be our highest priority.”
The street conversion is scheduled to be completed during the coming summer months.
Watch this video from a previous Press Conference
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