April 20, 2016 By Michael Florio
Community Board 1 is calling on the Department of Transportation to complete a safety redesign of 21st Street following a fatal hit and run earlier this month.
The Board voted Tuesday night to send a letter to the DOT calling for added traffic lights and safety improvements along the dangerous corridor.
Though safety concerns about 21st Street are not new, this letter comes on the heels of the fatal hit and run of a 45-year-old man at 21st Street and 30th Road earlier this month.
From July 2012 to July 2015, 410 people were injured and two were killed on 21st Street, according to the letter.
The Board wants the DOT to develop a “complete street” safety design that could be applied to 21st Street, as the agency has done to other dangerous streets.
“We should send the letter, not only to the Department of Transportation but to the Mayor and local officials,” CB 1 Chairman Joseph Risi said.
“Let’s make a point of making 21st Street safe like they made Queens Boulevard safe,” he added to applause.
In order to do so, the Board is calling on the DOT to add traffic lights along 21st Street at 28th Avenue, 30th Road, 33rd Road, mid-block between 34th and 35th Avenues, and 39th Avenue.
Council Member Costa Constantinides also called on the DOT to install a traffic light at 21st Street and 30th Road, following the fatal hit and run.
In addition to traffic lights the Board wants safety improvements to the dangerous three-way intersection with 27th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard. They also urged the DOT to implement measures to help pedestrians cross and keep the community involved throughout the process.
Nevertheless, CB1’s Transportation Committee chair Robert Piazza wanted to postpone sending the letter to next month’s meeting, to add stronger language regarding the pedestrian who was killed earlier this month.
“This man might not have been killed, his wife might not have been widowed and children might not have been orphaned, if the DOT put a traffic light there two and a half years ago when we first asked,” Piazza said. “We continued to ask and if there was a traffic light and a crosswalk there then maybe the driver would have stopped.”
However, Board Member Nancy Silverman stated that the Committee had already unanimously approved to send the letter in its current form.
“Stronger language is certainly welcomed, I don’t want to wait another month to send this out,” she said. “It’s an urgent issue.”
Ultimately, the Board voted to send the letter in its current form.
Several residents spoke in favor of the letter, stating that there needs to be safer conditions along 21st Street for both pedestrians and bicyclists.