DOT will not be closing Shore Boulevard to vehicular traffic

By Bill Parry

Shore Boulevard in Astoria Park will not be closed to vehicular traffic following discussions on a controversial proposal to improve traffic safety on the half-mile riverfront roadway, according to Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. She made that announcement during an Astoria Civic Association last week.

“We are not pursuing the closure of Shore Boulevard,” a DOT spokesman said. “We are looking forward to continuing our conversation with local stakeholders on how to fine-tune pedestrian and traffic safety plans and what can work best for the Astoria community.”

Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), who attended the meeting, had petitioned the DOT for new traffic calming measures on the streets in and around Astoria Park after 21-year-old Betty Jean DiBiasio was struck and killed in a hit-and-run while crossing Ditmars Avenue at 19th Street in June.

“We are grateful for Commissioner Trottenberg’s visit to Astoria to discuss these traffic safety measures,” Constantinides said. “Many traffic safety ideas about a variety of streets were proposed by the DOT and community members at our traffic safety public planning session last month. We will be considering these proposals as a comprehensive traffic safety plan is drafted for all the streets surrounding Astoria Park to provide a safer environment for all park goers.”

The commissioner’s announcement puts an end to the proposal put forth in August by Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) to close Shore Boulevard and turn it into a pedestrian walkway. Within days an online petition opposing the Simotas proposal appeared at Change.org and more than 1,200 people signed on.

Peter Argyris, the Astoria resident who started the petition, presented copies to both Trottenberg and the DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia during the Astoria Civic Association meeting. Simotas was in attendence as well.

“I was glad for the opportunity to meet with Commissioner Trottenberg and for her to hear directly from community members about traffic safety in Astoria,” Simotas said. “There is a clear consensus that something needs to be done to improve traffic safety on the streets surrounding Astoria Park. Now that we have brought attention to this pressing issue, I look forward to working with residents, my colleagues and the DOT towards a comprehensive safety plan for Astoria Park that will best serve the needs of all Astorians.”

Meanwhile, Constantinides is planning another traffic safety public planning session with Assembyman Michael DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst) Dec. 2 at Bruno’s on the Boulevard at 88-25 Astoria Blvd. The workshop will focus on ways to improve a stretch of Astoria Boulevard from 77th Street to 92nd Street.

Constantinides quote:

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

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