By Bill Parry
Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia announced Friday that more traffic lights will be installed on 21st Avenue in Astoria this spring. The added safety improvements are part of a redesign of a dangerous two-mile stretch of roadway that often resembles a speedway between Hoyt Avenue South and Queens Plaza.
“These new signals , coupled with last year’s reduction of the speed limit to 25 miles per hour, will enhance safety for all in the neighborhood,” Garcia said.
The new traffic lights will be installed in late April at the intersections of 21st, 24th and Crescent streets. Following the 2009 death of 65-year-old Astoria resident Konstantinos Stayropoulos, in a car crash at the corner of 21st Avenue and 23rd Street, a coalition of elected officials and community members held rallies to ask for better calming measures.
“Following our long advocacy campaign for traffic safety on this thoroughfare, these traffic lights will make 21st Avenue safer for pedestrians and drivers,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “We’ve come to know the street’s dangerous conditions all too well—dozens of injuries and traffic deaths. Families have deserved better than the speeding and unsafe conditions that occur here every day. These new traffic lights will ensure the safety of children who cross this roadway every day to get to school.”
The residential street is a conduit for three schools, PS 122, St. John’s Preparatory and the Kid Krazy daycare center. Several senior residences are also in the area.
“For too long 21st Avenue was the scene of accident after accident,” state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) said. “Today, we can look forward to a safer community where students, young families and elderly residents can safely walk, drive or bike to school, to work or to shop. These traffic lights are proof that each of us have a hand and voice in making our community better.”
Other improvements along the corridor include enhanced lighting and improved land markings. The Department of Transportation also installed Leading Pedestrian Intervals at ten intersections, giving those trying to cross the 60-foot roadway an extra ten seconds.
“These traffic safety improvements will ensure that each member of our community faces less risk of death or serious injury just by walking our streets,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “These enhancements demonstrate our commitment to safer streets and the importance of making investments in our local infrastructure.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr