Earlier this month, DOT officials took down the underpasses because they didn’t have enough usage to warrant rehabilitating them.
“These ramps were underutilized and, while safe, in poor condition,” said spokeswoman Diane Park. “Pedestrians needing to cross the LIRR can do so safely at Corporal Kennedy Street or Francis Lewis Boulevard, which are nearby.”
But State Senator Tony Avella, who met with local leaders on Monday, argued that the community was promised these ramps when the Clearview Expressway was built in the 1960s. According to the senator, Bayside was divided by the expressway.
“This community was promised these pedestrian passes, I don’t care what the usage is,” Avella said. “Because when the Clearview Expressway was built, we expected the state and the city to live up to that obligation.”
Avella said he will send a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo demanding that the state keep its commitment to provide the pedestrian ramps. He will ask the governor to include funding in next year’s budget.
“Obviously state DOT has made a decision that they don’t feel it warrants being replaced,” he said. “We’re going to fight till we get it back.”
Christina Scherer, a Community Board 11 member, said she used the underpass to get from Northern Boulevard to 39th or 35th avenues. Mary Donahue, another community board member, said the pedestrian ramps provided a shortcut from one part of Bayside to the other.
“Those ramps were helpful because they linked one section to the other,” said Henry Euler, first vice president of the Auburndale Improvement Association. “Over time, we started to see them deteriorate.”
Euler and his organization wrote a letter to DOT in 2015 informing the agency about the need to replace the ramps, but they didn’t hear back.
“We’re here today to insist that those ramps be replaced so our community members can go through one area in Bayside to the other,” he said. “We don’t want to be cut off from our neighbors.”