BY RODNEY D. GANTT
Community leaders, along with local and state officials, gathered for the announcement of funding for a new multi-million dollar transportation project meant to improve the local area and stimulate economic development.
Standing on the corner of the Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue train station, state Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park) made the announcement on Tuesday that the state has allocated $7.65 million for improvements to transportation in the area.
The project, which Sanders said might take up to a year and a half, will include the realignment and widening of Archer Avenue to create new bus stops and lanes, improving traffic flow and an added traffic signal at Archer Avenue 146 Street for pedestrian safety. In addition, the sidewalks on the north and south sides of the avenue will be widened and new center medians will be added. Also two new subway staircases with canopies will be constructed on the corners of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue.
The announcement comes after the release of the state budget’s list of approved projects earlier in the month, which included a similar $13 million improvement project near the end of the A line in Far Rockaway.
“The state is about to pump close to eight million dollars into this site to do some amazing things, imagine if we make it more realistic and a better commute for all,” said Sanders. “The state is also here so that we can prime the pumps on development in Jamaica. We want to make sure that as New York City grows this grows.”
Sanders thanked the Department of Transportation and other agencies as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo for having the “Jamaica vision” and putting his money where his mouth is.
Looking around the area, Sanders described it as “kind of ugly” and said it is not well designed due to the congested traffic and inconvenience to MTA commuters. Sanders and the other officials agreed the project has been a long time coming and necessary for the area, one reason being improved connectivity.
“We need to have a functioning transportation hub here where people can get from one mode of transportation to another easily conveniently and comfortably and that’s what’s happening here,” said William Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.
Along with improved connectivity and greater commuter safety, Henderson and the other officials predicted the project would spur economic development and growth in the area.
“When you improve an area even aesthetically making it safer yes, but just make it nicer in general that encourages job creation because it encourages private investment,” said Scala.
Sanders, who said the project creates a “stimulus for economic development,” welcomed would be investors and encouraged development that the whole community could take part in. Sanders said he is very interested in the development contracts and making sure people that live in the area know of the project and can compete.
“I’m interested in every phase of this from the guy directing traffic to the architect, a person that can do excavation to a person who is selling food at the corner,” said Sanders. “I want to make sure we are not doing gentrification but that we’re doing community development,” said Sanders.
Reluctant to give any details on upcoming projects Sanders said, “we are hard at work and we are nowhere near finished. We have some other great ideas that we intend to bring to fruition.”