Updated Jan. 13, 3:45 p.m.
A dangerous six-lane intersection in Astoria needs additional safety improvements, according to Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas.
The intersection at 32nd Street, the Grand Central Parkway exit ramp and Astoria Boulevard North is served by one stop light. Before initial safety measures were installed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2015, vehicles were forced to cross three, four or five lanes of traffic to make a turn onto 31st Street. Simotas first wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation in October 2013 to ask for improvements.
In the spring of 2015, after approval from Community Board 1, DOT extended the median between Astoria Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway from 32nd Street to 31st Street. Now, cars traveling on Astoria Boulevard North are forced to continue straight or turn right on 31st Street and those exiting the parkway can only go straight or left onto 31st Street.
But since the median extension, Simotas argues, the dangerous weaving has been pushed down further west of 31st Street to 30th Street and beyond. The assemblywoman met with Queens DOT commissioner Nicole Garcia in December 2015 and was told that another study would be conducted to find solutions to the new problem by summer 2016.
The DOT delayed the completion date of the study until October 2016 but a study has not yet been released.
“I first reported the daily danger faced by motorists and pedestrians at this intersection to the DOT over three years ago and improvements have been repeatedly delayed despite acknowledgement of the issue,” Simotas said in a letter addressed to DOT on Jan. 12. “I respectfully request immediate action to improve the safety of this intersection.”
The 114th Precinct has included this intersection in its list of most accident prone locations in Astoria.
A spokesperson for DOT told QNS that the agency is currently working on a “safety enhancement plan” for the location and will present it to the community “early this year” but did not provide a specific date.
“New street designs and configurations are one of the cornerstones of the city’s Vision Zero initiative and Astoria residents have the right to expect the city to keep its promise to improve street safety in every neighborhood and every borough,” Simotas said.
Florence Koulouris, district manager of Community Board 1, said her office has received multiple complaints about that intersection and added that the conditions have gotten worse further west of 31st Street.
“This exit has been studied multiple times and different traffic patterns have been implanted there,” she said. “The efforts are continuing to improve the flow of traffic and I’m sure over the years we will hit right on what will work in that area.”
She added that the setup of that particular intersection, with the train overhead, the columns that support the platform and the pathway to the RFK Bridge, make it difficult to come up with the perfect solution.