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Celebrating Better Buses improvements on Jamaica Avenue and Archer Avenue, Queens. (NYC DOT)
Celebrating Better Buses improvements on Jamaica Avenue and Archer Avenue, Queens. (NYC DOT)

This is quickly becoming the summer of our transit discontent.

Amtrak and NJTransit rail lines , disrupting the lives of hundreds of thousands of commuters.

Closer to home here in Queens, the city’s turned its experts loose on the already-challenging gauntlet faced by anyone who shops, dines, or worships along Jamaica Ave. They conferred, pondered, produced studies, planned — and ended up making matters much worse.

We do not doubt the good intentions of the DOT leadership. We have worked constructively with this department in other parts of the city. So this is not a case of political considerations trumping the interests and needs of New Yorkers. This is, instead, a case of a botched remedy for a complicated and chronic challenge in the dense and dynamic corridor that runs through the Jamaica community.

The DOT decision to has created chaos for those who live, work and worship here.

Our congregants have been disproportionately affected. The Jamaica Ave. corridor is now an incomprehensible maze of right turns, no parking zones, no loading zones, NYPD vehicles, and more. My congregants leave our church at 164th St. with spirits lifted and souls at peace only to enter a twilight zone of no-parking and no-turning signs and arrows that confuse many and often lead to hefty fines.

A visit to First Presbyterian ends up in a surprise ticket in a fortnight, angering those who came to worship but who find themselves penalized by a city intent on implementing a policy without careful consideration of the impact on unsuspecting residents and visitors. Some businesses along Jamaica Ave. report steep declines in walk-in traffic and sales because people simply can’t figure out how or where to park safely.

The new, complex system triggers horns honking at all hours and potential road range flare-ups from drivers or pedestrians whose frustrations mount by the minute. Mad Max might enjoy the mayhem, but my members and the majority of Queens residents do not.

Special days like Good Friday, Easter and Mother’s Day, when not only members but visitors attend worship, become bonanza days for the DOT camera ticketing program. Traffic snarls constantly, leading to an increase in air pollution — completely negating one of the reasons the bus lanes were installed in the first place.

We don’t see any plot or conspiracy here. We don’t attribute bad motives to the DOT planners. There is however an inability to listen to the real experts on traffic patterns (and so many other things): the traveling public who really matter in the implementation of any policy. This is just a failed policy that needs to be revisited and revised.

Planners at the DOT and other city agencies need to reconnect with those of us at the local level who know and value our community. My church, founded in 1662, has built a wonderful new Tree of Life facility — with health services and affordable apartments that meet the needs of many. Patients and residents shouldn’t have their blood pressure raised every time they drive, walk to a shop or a church.

We are encouraged by the city’s very serious and important rezoning process — which is off to a good start and promises to make Jamaica an even more dynamic and attractive location. So let’s set the table for all those new apartments and amenities that will soon begin to rise on vacant or underutilized sites in our area. It’s time to halt a failed policy.

DOT has an opportunity to right the wrong done to residents in Jamaica: rescind the regulations, refund the exorbitant fines to visitors confused by the traffic maze, and do real community engagement by getting the heads of local businesses, churches, and service entities together with the DOT team. Together, we can scrap the current plan and create a traffic pattern that both encourages bus usage and also responds to the needs of those who drive to work, church, or retail stores.

But, first, DOT would have to swallow its pride and admit that this failed experiment has hurt and frustrated unsuspecting residents and visitors to Jamaica Ave. Unfortunately, efforts to get DOT to respond have been met with nothing but more bureaucratic detours and stop signs. This attitude will only create more ill will in a community poised for progress and improvement, not skirmishes with a city agency that lost its way.

O’Connor is the pastor of and co-chair of Queens Power, a Metro Industrial Areas Foundation affiliate.

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