Dec. 4, 2015 By Michael Florio
Residents had the opportunity to voice their opinions on how to make a dangerous stretch of Astoria Boulevard safer at a workshop this week.
The corridor – Astoria Boulevard between 77th and 92nd Streets – has proven to be one of the most difficult for pedestrians to cross. According to Councilman Costa Constantinides, there have been almost 200 injuries, eight serious injuries and three fatalities since 2010.
A recent study of the area shows that approximately 60 percent of vehicles were found to be speeding. Approximately 2,000 cars pass through this area during rush hour, Constantinides said.
The Councilman added that there are only six crosswalks over these 16 blocks, so pedestrians can walk up to 1,000 feet before they have an opportunity to get across the street. The area also contains several multi-leg intersections, missing crosswalks, excess slip lanes and confusing lane designations and turn lanes, he said.
Constantinides, Assemblyman Michael DenDekker and the Department of Transportation held a meeting Wednesday that allowed the nearly 50 residents in attendance to break into groups and identify problem areas and come up with potential solutions.
Residents focused on how to create safer crossings along Astoria Boulevard.
They pointed out new areas where traffic lights could be installed, such as between 82nd and 88th Streets, according to Constantinides.
“There was discussion of adding additional intersections so residents can cross,” Constantinides said.
Another suggestion was adjusting the timing of the lights to allow pedestrians more time to cross the 100-foot street. Also, lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph was discussed.
Constantinides said a reduced speed limit is certainly on the table and the DOT will look further into it.
Residents also want to see action taken to improve traffic where 24th and 25th Avenues cut across Astoria Boulevard.
“It wreaks havoc with both pedestrian and vehicle traffic,” Constantinides said about those intersections.
The DOT will take suggestions received at the meeting and construct a plan to improve traffic safety conditions along this stretch. Constantinides is expecting the DOT to bring a plan back to the community in early 2016.
The plan would then need community board approval to be implemented. This stretch of road runs through Community Board 3.
“It may be something as simple as putting a traffic light at an intersection that doesn’t have one,” the Councilman said. “It may take longer on areas that capital dollars are needed to create intersections or infrastructures.”
Constantinides said that hearing from residents who deal with these issues on a first hand basis everyday will provide the DOT with insight that they would not otherwise have and allow for the best results.
“The people know how the streets work, not [just] how they are supposed to work in theory,” he said. “It is always important to include residents.”