City scores federal approval for key step in Willets Point development

April 03, 2012 08:30AM

The Federal Highway Administration delivered good news to the city’s longstanding effort to redevelop the Willets Point neighborhood of Queens. According to Crain’s, the federal agency ruled that proposed ramps for the Van Wyck Expressway would not significantly affect traffic and businesses in the neighborhood.

While the city’s Economic Development Corp. praised the decision, it did little to stifle opponents of the new highway ramps and the redevelopment plan in general. They say the findings work only under the assumption that the city’s development plans for Willets Point come to fruition. Without that development, they note, the city has found that the ramps would make traffic “intolerable” on the Van Wyck.

Still, the city expects to move forward with the 20-acre first phase of the project, which calls for commercial, residential and hotel development along with park space.

The ramps are not necessary for that first phase and still require state Department of Transportation approval, but Crain’s said the federal ruling was seen as a bigger challenge. [Crain’s]