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August 8, 2023
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“Get Buses Done”: NYC DOT Completes Work on Northern Boulevard Bus Priority Project, Longest Project This Year

Northern Boulevard is a priority corridor for both Vision Zero and the MTA Queens Bus Network Redesign The five miles of bus lanes stretching across Central Queens will serve 17,000 weekday riders, representing NYC DOT’s longest bus project of the year

Video description: Commissioner Rodriguez speaks in his office. Clips of bus lanes and pedestrians islands along Northern Boulevard in Queens. Buses moving along the roadway in red “Bus-Only” lanes. People boarding buses.

New York — New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez today announced the substantial completion of a bus priority project along Northern Boulevard in Queens, the longest bus lane installation NYC DOT is delivering this year, to make service faster and more reliable for 17,000 daily riders.

"The thousands of New Yorkers who commute on Northern Boulevard will not only have faster and more reliable bus service, but they will have a safer experience when walking and crossing the corridor," said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. "Projects like this help us make progress on our Vision Zero goals. We understand that strong bus infrastructure is a necessity; that is why we will continue collaborating with the MTA and our community partners as we tackle more of these important projects."

"Bus lanes are essential, and they work. The completion of this project means 17,000 daily bus customers will benefit from faster, safer, and more reliable bus service on a critical corridor," said NYC Transit President Richard Davey. "The completion of the Northern Boulevard bus corridor will improve service in Queens, which is the most bus-reliant borough in our city. We look forward to building on the success of Northern Boulevard and working with City partners to deliver more bus lanes throughout the five boroughs."

The Northern Boulevard bus priority project delivers five miles of bus lanes from Woodside to Corona, in addition to proven street improvements along a Vision Zero priority corridor. The improved street design assists five bus routes – the Q66, QM2, QM3, QM20, and QM32 – with 17,000 weekday riders, and connects to the M, R, subway lines at Broadway and Northern Boulevard.

A white Q66 bus travels in a red bus only lane along Northern Boulevard in Queens.
The Q66 bus using new offset bus lane on Northern Boulevard, image credit NYC DOT

The project came about through a robust public engagement process with dozens of stakeholders and community groups over the last five years. NYC DOT hosted an online feedback portal as well as conducted surveys at on-street pop-up sites, building on years of public outreach for safety improvements. NYC DOT also held three public workshops in 2018 to understand the community's safety and mobility concerns and help guide a vision for a future Great Streets capital project on Northern Boulevard. The capital project includes funding from Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Council Member Moya. In February 2020, NYC DOT and State Senator Ramos solicited feedbackfrom businesses on Northern Boulevard. Before starting work in November 2022, NYC DOT presented to Queens Community Board 3 in June 2022. Community Boards 1 and 2 received presentations in May 2023 before work in their districts started.

From the years of community engagement, numerous safety and mobility concerns were brought to the attention of NYC DOT. The agency responded with a series of projects to address these concerns. To improve safety, the community wanted to reduce pedestrian-vehicular conflicts and shorten crossing distances. For transit, the community wanted faster, more reliable service, as well as better connections to local transit and bus service.

From 2018-2021 NYC DOT focused on pedestrian safety by adding Leading Pedestrian Intervals at all feasible intersections, added Left Turn Traffic Calming where feasible, constructed 15 new concrete pedestrian refuge islands, and added painted curb extensions at all feasible locations. From 2021-2023, transit improvements included the consolidation of 10 paired bus stops and the addition of the Bus Only Lane.

The new bus lanes on Northern Boulevard are an example of how NYC DOT employs bus priority measures to improve travel times and reliability for passengers. Additionally, the offset bus lane design preserves curbside uses like parking, commercial loading, and outdoor dining, and promotes safety through traffic calming and pedestrian neckdowns.

"I'm thrilled to see the Northern Boulevard bus priority project completed, so that the thousands of community members who rely on it, from Woodside to Corona, can have a better and faster commuting experience," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. "Buses are a critical way for Queens residents to move around the borough, and we're committed to working alongside NYC DOT and all our city partners to speed up travel times, reduce traffic on our roads and make streets safe. I thank everyone involved in this project for making this happen."

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris said, "Queens commuters need fast, affordable, reliable bus service and bus priority lanes like Northern Boulevard are crucial to delivering on that goal. I look forward to the completion of this project and expanding this effort even further across our community."

"New Yorkers need better buses. With the Northern Boulevard bus lane project, more than 17,000 riders now have access to faster, more reliable, and more efficient bus service each day," said Laura Shepard, Queens Organizer at Transportation Alternatives. "Putting bus riders first on our streets is key to making our transportation system more equitable and making New York City more accessible. Thank you, Commissioner Rodriguez, for prioritizing bus riders in Queens and we look forward to the opening of more bus priority projects in all five boroughs."