January 13, By Hannah Wulkan
A local lawmaker called on the Department of Transportation to take immediate action to improve a dangerous Astoria intersection yesterday.
Assembly Member Aravella Simotas voiced her concern in a letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg yesterday that three years after she pointed out the dangerous intersection at 32nd Street, the Grand Central Parkway’s (GCP) exit 45 ramp and Astoria Boulevard North, no action had been taken to improve it.
She wrote in the letter that despite “over three years of repeated requests, this intersection remains a daily hazard to motorists” and “improvements have been repeatedly delayed despite acknowledgment of the issue.”
Simotas first called attention to the intersection in 2013, pointing out that six lanes of traffic merge at the intersection (two lanes exiting the Grand Central Parkway and four lanes from Astoria Boulevard), which are all controlled by one light, forcing some drivers to cross five lanes of traffic to turn left on to 31st Street.
“This intersection is a daily danger to motorists and pedestrians and any further delay in making it safer is unacceptable and inexcusable,” Simotas said. “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.”
The DOT implemented a temporary fix to the intersection in 2015, extending the median between Astoria Boulevard and the parkway exit ramp from 32nd Street to 31st Street so drivers who are traveling on Astoria Boulevard North are only permitted to continue straight or turn right on 31st Street and those exiting the parkway are only permitted to continue straight or turn left on 31st Street.
Simotas pointed out in her letter that the temporary solution simply pushed the problem west of 31st Street, rather than solving anything.
Simotas cited several instances of the DOT delaying any sort of fix, most recently having told her that there would be a proposed solution by early October 2016, but she still has not heard of any progress on the issue.
In her letter she requested “immediate action” on the problem, pointing out that the intersection has been listed as the 114th Precinct’s most accident-prone location.