By Bill Parry
Construction on Astoria’s first Neighborhood Slow Zone has begun. City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) and the city DOT’s Queens commissioner, Nicole Garcia, announced last week.
The DOT will reduce the speed limit to 25 miles per hour on more than 55 blocks from Astoria Boulevard to 30th Avenue and from Steinway Street to 21st Street.
The DOT received support to implement the slower, safer speed zone following a vote of support from Community Board 1 in June. DOT is now installing 14 speed bumps, 20 gateway intersection treatments and 20 mph pavement markings through September.
“I have heard many concerns from residents about cars often speeding through these residential blocks,” Constantinides said. “There have been dozens of injuries due to traffic crashes in this area since 2009. The slow-zone safety measures will greatly improve traffic safety with new speed bumps and increased signage. Pedestrians will have an easier time navigating and crossing our streets.”
The Neighborhood Slow Zone in Astoria will be the DOT’s eighth in Queens. DOT has found up to a 15 percent reduction in speeds, a 10 percent decline in crashes with injuries, and a 27 percent reduction in motor vehicle injuries.
“Families living along these streets deserve peace of mind, and I believe that this plan strikes the appropriate balance between the needs of the residential side streets and those of the adjacent commercial thoroughfares, which will not be included in the slow zone,” Constantinides said.
Slow Zones are a key component of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, as are as Speed Cameras, and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced Tuesday that cameras are now in place at 140 locations, the maximum amount allowed by the state, in time for the start of school.
“Speed cameras are working to deter speeding drivers and as students head back to school, all 140 school zone locations for speed cameras will be activated,” Trottenberg said. “DOT took a careful and comprehensive approach to siting and installing speed cameras throughout the five boroughs.”
The agency installed 100 fixed cameras and 40 mobile speed cameras were activated in time for the over one million children heading back to school. Since the inception of the program 20 month ago, the City has issued more than 945,000 speed camera violations, with over a half-a-million so far this year.
“The NYPD will be giving special attention along with other city agencies for our children returning to school,” NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said. “Our officers will be focusing on speeding and distracted drivers, Please drive carefully.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr