By Bill Parry
Weeks after 45-year-old Sean Crume was killed by a hit-and-run driver on 21st Street in Astoria, Community Board 1 endorsed a resolution calling on the city Department of Transportation for a comprehensive redesign of the entire length of 21st Street.
The DOT responded with a plan in July and last week the agency installed a traffic light at 30th Road and 21st Street, the intersection where Crume was killed.
“This new traffic light will help improve public safety at this intersection and work to calm traffic along 21st Street,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “The tragic hit-and-run that occurred in early-April underscored what this community has known for years — that this intersection was in great need of a traffic light. We learned from this tragedy and are taking action to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
21st Street has long been known as “the speedway” where 1,000 vehicles an hour race from the Triborough Bridge to the free Queensboro Bridge. Four fatalities have occurred in collisions along 21st Street since 2009, according to Vision Zero View, a city website.
“This newly installed signal adds to nearly two miles of safety improvements installed along 21st Street in 2015,” DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia said. “The signal helps clarify the right of way for everyone using the street, especially youngsters heading to the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens.”
Hundreds of children and their families attend the club each day, according to Executive Director Matthew Troy.
“We could not be more grateful for the team effort that led to a new crosswalk being built,” he said. “For years, our club has worked collaboratively with our elected officials to raise awareness for a crosswalk at 30th Road and 21st Street. Today is a monumental achievement for our community that fixes one of the most dangerous intersections in all of Queens.”
According to NYPD data, the intersection at 30th Road was the scene of 12 crashes in 2015. There was not a traffic light or even a stop sign.
“The addition of this traffic light will ensure each member of our community faces less risk of death or injury just by walking our streets,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “Enhancements such as these demonstrate our commitment to safer streets and the importance of making investments in our infrastructure.”
The driver who struck and killed Crume was not apprehended and the investigation continues, according to the NYPD.
“Walking and crossing Astoria streets should not be a game of chance with the odds stacked against pedestrians, with children especially at risk,” state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) said. “This new light will slow down speeding cars and make everyone safer, including drivers.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr