Members of Astoria‘s Community Board 1 unanimously supported a proposal by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve a section of the neighborhood that is difficult for pedestrians to navigate.
The proposal, presented at a Community Board 1 meeting on Feb. 20 focuses on intersections at Vernon Boulevard, 30th Avenue, Eighth Street and Astoria Boulevard. The intersections are adjacent to the Astoria Houses and the Astoria ferry stop that officially opened in August 2017.
According to DOT Project Manager Dan Wagner, this specific project is different from others in that a DOT study found that there isn’t a large number of traffic accidents in the area.
“The good news is that the safety data in this project is very low,” he said. “Instead of trying to address safety issues were trying to pre-empt them from coming in the future.”
The intersections in the project area contain unmarked crossings and little signal or stop control, making it difficult for pedestrians to know when they should cross the street. There are also four bus routes — the Q18, Q19, Q102 and Q103 — that share street space with cars and pedestrians.
According to Wagner, the crossing distances are also longer than average crossings in the city. A pedestrian crossing from Eighth Street to the triangle on Main Street must travel 113 feet. The average crossing distance is 30 feet.
The proposal includes adding two new crosswalks at 8th Street and 30th Avenue and 30th Avenue at Main Avenue with enhanced crossings. The DOT would also install five new curb extensions and expand the Greenstreets Triangle with a curb extension.
One block of Main Avenue between Eighth Street and 30th Avenue would also be converted into a one-way street with the new plan.
The plan would also ban right turns for drivers going westbound on 30th Avenue to Main Avenue. According to DOT data, on any given hour there are zero to five cars making that turn.
One moving lane would be removed from Astoria Boulevard between Main Street and Eighth Avenue and the 31 parallel parking spaces on the block would become 41 angled parking spaces instead.
Two enhanced crossings will be installed at Astoria Boulevard and Main Avenue and another would be installed at Vernon Boulevard and 31st Avenue. Pedestrian warning signs will also be installed.
“It’s just a lot of good improvements with a little extra parking and the community is in favor of it,” said Bob Piazza, transportation committee chair.
Vanessa Jones-Hall, an Astoria Houses resident and member of the Two Coves Community Garden at the intersection of 30th Avenue, Main Avenue and Astoria Boulevard, said her community has been waiting a long time for improvements like this.
“I’m so so glad that this is happening because I’ve been meeting with you guys and we spoke about this because we have not only members of our garden [use] wheelchairs and also have walking devices, we have a heavy volume of seniors and those with disabilities [at Astoria Houses],” she said.
Andre Stith, who is also a resident at Astoria Houses, added that the streets are also used by children to get to neighboring schools like P.S. 171 and The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria.
“Every walkway that you just showed [contains traffic] for every child that has to walk to school,” he said. “They have to cross there every day.”
The DOT will use “quick-response materials” such as gravel or paint, markings, signage and flexible delineators to make the installation process faster.
According to a DOT spokesperson, work on the project is expected to begin in spring 2018.