Pedestrians trying to shop along Steinway Street in Astoria have to walk more than 500 feet to reach a crosswalk. A local councilman, along with the Department of Transportation, is looking to change that.
Councilman Costa Constantinides and the DOT announced on Feb. 23 that three new mid-block crosswalks and traffic lights would be installed along the busy thoroughfare. Constantinides first announced his plan to add traffic mitigation measures on Steinway Street in his State of the District speech last year.
Steinway Street, which stretches from Northern Boulevard to Berrian Boulevard, currently has no mid-block crosswalks and blocks measure up to 1,000 feet. The new crosswalks and traffic lights will be installed from 30th Avenue through 34th Avenue. The agency will also add painted curb extensions and planters to shorten the crossing distance.
The thoroughfare has been the scene of 249 traffic-related injuries and 95 pedestrian injuries in the past five years, according to DOT data.
“These traffic mitigation measures will greatly improve the Steinway Street experience for pedestrians, shoppers and small business owners,” Constantinides said. “If the street is safer and easier to cross, shoppers will be able to walk between stores more safely.”
Marie Torniali, executive director of the Steinway Astoria Partnership, said the improvements will help boost foot traffic for small businesses in the area that may have been overlooked.
“The Steinway BID is very excited to see these long-awaited pedestrian-friendly improvements to the Steinway streetscape being implemented,” she said. “The blocks on Steinway are easily the length of two city blocks and walking to either end is a chore. Mid-block crossings will make it easier and safer for shoppers and residents to cross the street.”
These changes will be installed this spring as part of the first phase of the project. The next phase will include working on a plan for a public gathering place.
In his state of the district speech last year, Constantinides announced his desire to form a community working group to discuss bringing a meeting space to the area, citing examples like Union Square and Madison Square in Manhattan.
Plans for the public gathering space will begin after the initial safety measures are installed.