By Rebecca Henely
Elected officials and residents rallied at the corner of 21st Avenue and 23rd Street in Astoria Saturday to denounce what they called the city Department of Transportation’s lack of action following the death of a pedestrian at the intersection a year ago.
State Sen.-elect Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), state Assemblywoman-elect Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), Democratic District Leader Costa Costantinides and members of the community said they were requesting that a traffic-calming device be put along 23rd Street, citing the death of Konstantinos Stayropoulos, who was killed at the intersection Nov. 13, 2010.
“How many more deaths will it take before proper safety measures are taken?” Simotas asked in a news release. “Protecting the public should be DOT’s first priority and not an afterthought.”
Brian Beard, president of the Long Island City Alliance, said there have been 12 accidents on that corner since Stayropoulous’ death. He said the problem is not that too many people are on the road with 23rd Avenue usually quiet on the weekends, but that many people speed down it. He said there is no traffic light from 28th Street to 21st Street on 23rd Avenue, and motorists traveling westbound speed down the road to avoid catching the traffic light on 21st Street.
“This has really become the speedway of Astoria,” Costantinides said.
The district leader said it has been difficult to convey that message to the DOT. The DOT has done five traffic studies in the area since 2006 and will be finishing another one in March, but in the last study it had department members counting cars instead of clocking the speeds. As a result, no traffic-calming devices have been installed.
“It is unacceptable that the DOT has taken no action a full year after someone was killed at this intersection,” Gianaris said in a release.
Costantinides said there are three schools nearby the intersection, including pre-school Kid Krazy II on 23rd Avenue, PS 122 at 21st Street and Ditmars Boulevard and St. John’s Preparatory School at 21st Avenue and Crescent Street.
“We have a lot of children and seniors in the area,” Beard said. “We don’t want any more tragedies.”
Beard said they are hoping to get a four-way stop or a traffic light installed along the stretch.
Costantinides said they have also asked for a speed bump, but DOT originally refused to install one because a bus route used to travel down the road, although that route has since been eliminated. He said more than 300 residents along 23rd Avenue have asked for a traffic-calming device and Community Board 1 supports it.
“It’s just been a very frustrating exercise in red tape,” Costantinides said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.