Feb. 22, 2016 By Michael Florio
The Department of Transportation received a green light last week to tackle some confusing and dangerous sections of Astoria Boulevard.
Community Board 3 approved the agency’s plans for various traffic safety improvement projects on Astoria Boulevard from 77th Street to Ditmars Boulevard.
One major change would come to the road from 79th Street to Ditmars Boulevard. Along this stretch, the existing shared space for parked cars and traffic on either side of the Boulevard would be split into dedicated parking and traffic lanes. The rush hour restrictions on the south side of the Boulevard – which prohibit standing from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – would be eliminated.
Astoria Boulevard’s combined lanes currently function as “an extension of the highway,” DOT Project Manager Casey Gorrell said. In contrast, the new parking lane will narrow the road and calm traffic, he added.
“We are using this to create a safer Astoria Boulevard,” Gorrell said.
Parking in the right lane on Astoria Boulevard South between 77th and 79th Streets will be prohibited to make merging safer from the Grand Central Parkway. The left lane along this stretch would be dedicated to cars approaching the Parkway entrance ramp.
Further down the road, at Astoria Boulevard and 105th Street, the DOT would straighten the long cross walks to make crossing easier for pedestrians and extend an existing concrete median into the crosswalk.
At the 108th Street and Ditmars Boulevard intersections, the agency would make a number of modifications to traffic lanes, street alignment, curbs and crossings, which together aim to make road use less complicated and shorten pedestrian crossings.
Community Board 3 voted unanimously to approve the DOT’s proposals, with the stipulation that the agency work with the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education to create safe conditions for a proposed new school site just east of Ditmars Boulevard and Astoria Boulevard. Gorrell said that the DOT would be willing to work with these agencies.
These changes will be implemented this year, according to Gorrell.
The Board also approved the installation of two speed humps. The first will go on 84th Street between 30th and 31st Avenues and the second on 76th Street between 32nd Avenue and Northern Boulevard.
They will be installed in 2016 once resources are available, a DOT spokesperson said.