Dec. 15, 2017 By Tara Law
The days of tractor-trailers barreling down Astoria Boulevard may be coming to an end following a design change being made to the Grand Central Parkway.
Large trucks, currently banned from using a 14-block stretch of the Grand Central Parkway by the RFK-Triborough Bridge, will soon be able to use that section of the expressway. Currently, the big rigs have had to use Astoria Boulevard to connect from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the bridge.
The NYS DOT is raising the vehicle height limit on that section of the Grand Central Parkway to 14 feet, up from 12 feet 6 inches, which will make room for the biggest of trucks. The work started in November and is expected to wrap up soon, with big trucks likely to be able to start using it by the end of the year.
The DOT, at a cost of $2.5 million, is raising the height by lowering the roadway. As a result, large trucks will be no longer have to use Exit 44 of the BQE as a means to access the bridge.
Smaller trucks have been permitted to use the small stretch on the Grand Central Parkway since 2004, as long as they have no more than three axles and ten tires.
Astoria’s elected officials and representatives from the NYS Department of Transportation gathered near the BQE in Astoria today to announce the work is nearing completion. They called on the DOT to make this change in June.
“It’s great to finally see our full vision for a truck-free Astoria Boulevard realized,” said State Sen. Mike Gianaris.
Local leaders have complained to the DOT for years about the tractor trailers being forced to use Astoria Boulevard, arguing that it has made local roads less safe and added to congestion.
“Lowering the roadway to allow trucks to stay on the highway will bring benefits to traffic safety and our environment,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides. “With this fix now being implemented, Astorians can breathe easier that our air will be cleaner, traffic will be reduced and the unbearable noise and damaged streets to which we’ve grown accustomed will be lessened.”