A slew of safety improvements are in store for Jamaica’s transit hub.
State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Queens) announced the allocation of $7.65 million in funding for pedestrian and bus upgrades to the Jamaica Transportation Center Plaza to improve access to the Queens hub that serves the Long Island Rail Road, E, J and Z trains and some two dozen MTA bus routes.
“I am proud to have helped facilitate this funding which will make the busy downtown Jamaica area safer and more accessible to both pedestrians and motorists,” Sanders said. “Hopefully, we will see job growth and an increase in the amount of people enjoying the many goods and services available in this community.”
Each weekday, more than 140,000 subway and LIRR commuters pass through the outer-borough’s major transit hub, which advocates say doesn’t have enough supporting infrastructure to handle the connections commuters are makings.
“It’s a big area with a lot of people transferring from the subway to bus home, or vice versa. Plus you have people maybe driving to the AirTrain, [to Kennedy Airport] or transferring from the LIRR,” said Bill Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. “We really do need to rationalize that area as much as possible and this goes some distance towards doing that.”
With the money, Archer Avenue will be widened and realigned to make way for upgraded bus stops and bus lanes that aim to improve the overall flow of traffic around the bustling transit center. Pedestrians along the corridor will get wider sidewalks along each direction of Archer as well as a new center median for the street.
A traffic signal will be added to the corner of Archer Avenue and 146th Street to make the intersection easier to navigate for the LIRR riders exiting nearby platform steps.
Subway riders will get two new station entrances, with overhead canopies, at the corners of Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard.
Sanders said the construction will also boost the aesthetics of the “gritty” transit center.
“Right now this area has a gritty feeling,” Sanders said. “It almost looks like an urban backdrop that would be used in the movies. We want it to be more upscale.”
Funding for the project was secured in the state’s 2016 budget through a deal between Sanders, his colleagues, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to Sanders.
The work on the project is anticipated to take several years. A timeline has not been finalized, though Sanders’ office said that there’s a window to for community input that can help shape the plan.