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CB1 supports DOT plan to change Astoria crossway

By Bill Parry

A dangerous intersection in Astoria will be redesigned under a city Department of Transportation plan that awaits Community Board 1 approval next week.

The changes will affect traffic patterns at Astoria Boulevard North, which serves as a service road for the Grand Central Parkway, and 31st Street.

“It’s one of the worst intersections in the United States, maybe even the world,” CB 1 District Manager Lucille Hartmann said.

The 114th Precinct identified the intersection as the most dangerous in the area, according to state Sen. Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria).

“For too long, this intersection has been dangerous and confusing,” Simotas (D-Astoria) said. “This proposal will eliminate dangerous lane-changing maneuvers and guide traffic in a safer, easily understood lane configuration. Motorists should never have to put their lives at risk crossing multiple lanes of traffic just to get home.”

The DOT proposes extending the median between Astoria Boulevard North and the Grand Central Parkway in order to separate local and express traffic. Vehicles traveling west will no longer be able to turn left on 31st Street, while motorists exiting the Grand Central will no longer be able to turn right at 31st Street.

Currently, the Grand Central’s exit ramp merges directly with Astoria Boulevard North, creating a confusing, seven-lane intersection with vehicles attempting multiple-lane crossovers across an extremely short distance.

“It’s absolutely terrifying,” Hartmann said of the traffic pattern that has led to multiple vehicle and pedestrian accidents in addition to gridlock.

The DOT presented its proposal to CB 1 Tuesday night.

“It was passed by hand vote and the board was very supportive,” Hartmann said. “The letter is being sent to the DOT and what happens next is up to them.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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