By Bill Parry
State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) sent a letter to the City Department of Transportation last week about the agency’s failure to implement planned safety improvements at a dangerous intersection in Astoria.
The notorious crossway, where 32nd Street meets the Grand Central Parkway exit 45 ramp at Astoria Boulevard North, is frequently a scene of vehicular chaos.
“It’s one of the worst intersections in the United States, maybe even the world,” Community Board 1 District Leader Lucille Hartmann said. Two lanes of traffic currently exiting the Grand Central Parkway and four lanes of traffic from Astoria Boulevard North are controlled by the same traffic light.
This creates a situation where vehicles are routinely forced to cross three, four and even five lanes of traffic to make the desired turn onto 31st Street. Accidents and near accidents at this location are routine according to the 114th Precinct.
“This intersection is dangerous and confusing,” Simotas said. “Motorists from the area dread crossing multiple lanes of traffic to get home and drivers new to the area have no idea how to get where they are going.”
In November 2013, Simotas met with Delila Hall, who was the Queens commissioner of the DOT before she was reassigned two weeks ago. They discussed possible solutions to the concerns of many in the community. In May, after months of study, DOT submitted its proposal to Community Board 1 and received approval to begin work on the intersection’s redesign.
The DOT proposed 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 on 31st Street.
Simotas said the approved safety measures have not been implemented.
“There is no good reason why residents and motorists should still be endangered at this intersection after DOT and the Community Board have agreed on what needs to be done,” Simotas said.
A DOT spokesman said the agency had only recently received Simotas’ letter and was still reviewing the case.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.