Astoria Grapples with Traffic Safety

Astoria Grapples with Traffic Safety

Traffic safety has been a longtime concern for Astoria Residents. In August 2015, the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association passed the following resolution in reference to traffic flow and pedestrian/bicycle safety on roads surrounding Astoria Park.

  1. Ditmars Blvd. We back constructing another speed bump on Ditmars between 19th St and 21st St. We also prefer that all speed bumps around Astoria Park be 4 inches in height to make them more effective. This is a similar pattern that was established on Astoria Park South that has been quite effective in calming traffic. Also, we feel that the lettering on the street advising a stop is coming should be repainted, and made larger to warn drivers of the upcoming 4 way stop at 19th st and Ditmars. Ditmars also needs to be kept as 2-way traffic.
  2. Shore Blvd. We are opposed to the total removal of vehicles on Shore Blvd to make it pedestrian only. The loss of valuable neighborhood parking, plus lack of access for people with disabilities and the elderly, make this untenable. Also, this has been tried in the past with disastrous results. All the vehicles just ended up moving to the local side streets, taking up valuable parking, and whatever noise and partying was created was now in residential neighborhoods. Excluding cars could also limit access for people not within walking distance. By bringing people from other communities we increase the spending in our neighborhood. It could make Police enforcement more difficult, as everyone was now spread out, instead of in one location. And with the advent of the Performance Space, parking will become more essential.Access to the Park by service vehicles of the NYPD and Fire Department would be negatively affected. (Time is crucial). Also, the issue of noise abatement in the summer months has been addressed successfully by the installation of No Standing Night Regulations requested by the NYPD. Please note that rather than removing Parking in the winter, we at OANA have already requested a study from DOT and the NYPD to restore overnight parking on Shore Blvd off season, from Nov 1 to May 1. This is now in the hands of the NYPD for study.
    Finally, because of all the major development on the Astoria waterfront, the demographics will undergo major changes in the next 7-10 years. Therefore it makes no sense to create changes until these new perimeters are established.Also, we are not unopposed to the creation of one-way traffic on Shore Blvd. to facilitate establishment of a protected bike lane, as long as said bike lane does not use unsightly Jersey Barriers, instead using parked vehicles.
  3. Astoria Park South. We do not feel any alterations are needed. It must be kept 2-way.
  4. 19th St. OANA is opposed to turning 19th St into a one-way street. There is no more effective traffic calming measure than 2-way traffic, especially on a narrow street such as 19th st. because of the park and especially the pool; we have many children in the area. Turning this one way is just inviting speeding or inattentive drivers, creating major safety concerns. While the 2 way on 19th St may be inconvenient, it is not worth the risk changing something that is not broken

Regards,
Richard Khuzami
Kevin Hernandez
Diane Kontzoglou
OANA Board Members

An online traffic safety petition addressed these and other concerns.

These are OANA’s responses to some of the specific proposals:

1) Shore Boulevard: As you state, this is a great solution, but would take a major capital project. Also, this would take conversion of Parks land (The west side sidewalk is Parkland) to DOT, which is a difficult proposition. As far as stoplights go, there is a federal mandated threshold …that has to be met. According to DOT, this threshold has not been met. DOT has stated they are instituting very visible pedestrian walkways with rumble strips)

2) 19th Street between Hoyt Ave & Ditmars Blvd :Again, DOT is doing a study to see if the Federal Mandated threshold has been met. DOT is keeping this a 2-way street, which is in itself a very effective traffic calming measure.They are also studying for the implementation of additional speed bumps on Ditmars between 19th and 21st sts.

3)Astoria Blvd & 31st Street towards the Robert F. Kennedy (Triboro) Bridge: DOT realizes that their fix for merging traffic on Astoria Blvd between 32nd and 31st Sts has just moved the issue west of 31st st. It has also caused major backups on the ramp from the GCP. They did indeed bring up your solution for alternating lights previously and are studying it for feasibility.. They just have to make sure that this does not exasperate an already bad backup on the ramp from the GCP.

4)18th Street Between 27th Avenue & Astoria Park South:This has already been proposed by OANA, and is currently under review. (DOT-260918-H9Z8_OANA_ Request for Speed Humps on 18th Street between Astoria Blvd and Astoria Park South CRM_0628147)

OANA has called for a comprehensive traffic calming study for Old Astoria.Hopefuly, we can prevent another tragedy like the recent fatal hit and run on 21st Street

Meanwhile, some politicians are reviving the effort to implement congestion pricing in the City and tolls on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge and other East River crossings that are currently free.

There may someday be another option for Astoria resident who want to ditch their cars altogether. The proposed Brooklyn Queens connector would be a streetcar line running from Astoria to Brooklyn. OANA members voiced their opinions on the proposal in this article.

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