Bustling Steinway Street in Astoria needs safety improvements and a public gathering space, and one local legislator is asking area residents for their help in achieving these goals.
On Feb. 24, Councilman Costa Constantinides announced the new initiative along with state Senator Michael Gianaris and Assembly members Aravella Simotas and Brian Barnwell.
Constantinides first proposed changes to the street in his State of the District address in January. Steinway Street is considered Astoria’s main thoroughfare, home to many businesses and eating establishments.
It has also been the site of hundreds of traffic accidents – there have been 249 traffic-related injuries and 95 pedestrian injuries in the past five years. This high number of injuries is due to the configuration of each block. The blocks along the street are long, and many times pedestrians will cross in the middle of the street to reach a store instead of walking to the end to reach a crosswalk.
“That’s why I am calling for the Department of Transportation to place mid-block crosswalks along Steinway Street,” Constantinides said in his speech. “I also believe that there are other traffic safety measures, including leading pedestrian intervals or LPIs, which need to be considered. These allow for a few extra seconds for pedestrians to cross before vehicles are cleared to go.”
The plan also includes curb extensions and a wayfinding system that would map out public transit routes and points of interest in the neighborhood.
Additionally, the councilman outlined plans for a public gathering space, where residents could sit down, enjoy a cup of coffee or take a break from shopping.
Astoria residents are encouraged to submit suggestions for the location and design of the space to [email protected]. In the spring, the councilman will form a community working group to discuss specifics for the space.
“Steinway Street has long been the commercial heart of Astoria,” he said. “Yet, business along the thoroughfare has been in transition for a few years. Many great shopping areas around our city have measures to mitigate traffic and dedicated spaces for public gathering. We have the opportunity to turn Steinway Street into something similar.”
The changes, Constantinides argued, would “improve pedestrian safety, create an anchor space to draw in shoppers, increase economic activity and encourage community togetherness.”