Streets around Astoria Park to be transformed with city’s new safety project

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

New traffic safety measures along major roadways around Astoria Park will soon be implemented after Community Board 1 members recommended their approval at Tuesday’s meeting.

Sections of Shore Boulevard, 20th Avenue and Hoyt Avenue North will be upgraded to reduce traffic, create and enhance connections to the park and waterfront, increase ADA accessibility and increase overall traffic safety.

These improvements are being made after the Department of Transportation (DOT) held a public workshop last October to gather concerns and identify problem areas. In July 2015, a 21-year-old woman was killed near the park on 19th Street and Ditmars Boulevard.

This death, along with more than 100 injuries near the park, spurred Councilman Costa Constantinides and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas to join Astoria residents in calling for increased safety measures.

Currently a two-way street, Shore Boulevard between Ditmars Boulevard and Astoria Park South will become a one-way southbound street with an additional eight-foot wide parking lane. The bicycle lanes, which are currently on pedestrian park paths will be moved to the right side of the street. A 3 feet buffer between the lanes and park paths will also be installed.

Street crossings will also be shortened and ADA accessible ramps will improve access to the park and the waterfront, according to the plan.

The second project, spanning between 37th Street and Shore Boulevard on 20th Avenue proposes to calm traffic on a roadway where 88 percent of motorists exceed the speed limit, according to the DOT.

The bike lanes, which are currently on both sides of the avenue will be moved to the right side of the street. The existing 12-foot travel lanes will be decreased by one foot and will be bound by parking lanes on either side.

A designated bus landing zone will be installed at 31st Street and 20th Avenue to create a designated space for pedestrians to wait, load and unload for the Q100 bus.

A travel lane will be removed from Hoyt Avenue North and two-way bicycle lanes will be installed along the south sidewalk. A 6-foot buffer between the bike lanes and parking lane will ensure that cyclists and pedestrians exiting their cars will not collide, DOT officials said.

Three streets along Hoyt Avenue North will receive more consistent left turn controls including 21st Street, 23rd Street and Crescent Street. The bike lane on Crescent Street will be moved to the south curb to avoid conflicts with buses. It will become a two-way bike lane and split signals for pedestrians and bikes will increase safety for both groups, the plan said.

The DOT will also update signal timing for additional crossing time for pedestrians.

Bike lanes will also be installed on the south curb of 23rd Street along with a left turn lane and updated signal timing. Officials said the three to four parking spaces will be lost as a result of the added left turn lane but that six parking spots will be added to 21st Street.

The two-way bike lanes will also be installed on 21st Street.

Astoria resident Macartney Morris, an avid runner and bicyclist, said he often felt unsafe running along Shore Boulevard and applauds the efforts of city officials to make the area safer.

“I think this is a great compromise that combines the two political entities of the new pedestrian transit people in addition to the older car drivers,” Morris said.