Officials call for changes to improve truck-heavy streets around Grand Central Parkway in Astoria

Photo via Twitter/Costa Constantinides

A portion of the Grand Central Parkway that is off-limits to large commercial trucks has caused headaches for Astoria residents who must deal with trucks using side streets to bypass the area.

Currently, large trucks must exit the Grand Central Parkway to enter the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge or the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE). Truck drivers end up using Astoria Boulevard to access the bridge and expressway, which increases traffic and the emission of heavy fumes, local officials argue.

Councilman Costa Constantinides, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and Congressman Joe Crowley held a press conference on June 2 in front of the parkway to propose a solution to the problem. They say allowing trucks to access that part of the parkway, instead of taking detours on Astoria Boulevard or other side streets, would improve the quality of life for Astoria residents.

“All Astorians deserve access to streets without unbearable traffic, loud noises and heavy fumes,” Constantinides said. “Taking this move would be a solid step towards Astoria Boulevard feeling less like a highway for big trucks and more like the street that our seniors, families and residents need it to be every day.”

On Twitter, Queens residents expressed their frustration at the constant congestion along the expressway. Twitter user @Joby_Jacob suggested that the Grand Central Parkway be turned into an interstate.

The Twitter account for the Black Car Assistance Corporation, an industry group, argued that this move would benefit the black car and vehicle for hire industries.

According to the DOT Truck Map, commercial vehicles and single-unit trucks up to 12 feet, 6 inches in height, with no more than three axles and 10 tires, are allowed to use the Grand Central Parkway to access the RFK Bridge and BQE.

The DOT has studied allowing larger commercial vehicles to use that section of the GCP but “roadway characteristics” have stopped them from permitting trucks to do so, a spokesperson said. An open house to build out the city’s Smart Truck Management plan is scheduled for June 6 at 6:30 p.m. at LaGuardia College, and residents are encouraged to attend and provide input.

“We are always willing to partner with local communities and authorities to discuss ideas about alleviating traffic, improving mobility and enhancing safety,” a spokesperson for the DOT said.

Simotas said it is “illogical,thoughtless and cruel” to use a residential street as a truck route when the Grand Central Parkway is available.

“Opening up this tiny section of the parkway — which is no longer the quiet scenic roadway envisioned originally — is a solution begging to be implemented,” she added.

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