March 12, 2019, By Meghan Sackman
Council Member Costa Constantinides is calling on the DOT to make changes to an existing truck route in order to fix a problematic Astoria intersection where trucks block the street.
The chaotic intersection is located where 24th Avenue and 29th Street meet. Both streets are deemed by DOT as “Through Truck Routes,” since they connect trucks to the RFK Bridge and the truck route that runs from 21st Street to Astoria Boulevard.
Many truck-related problems have occurred on the “through truck routes” on 24th Avenue and 29th Street. For instance, the big rigs sometimes get stuck as they make the turn onto 29th Street.
This call for action by Constantinides comes after the Twitter account @TrucksStuckNYC brought the issue to light by specifically posting pictures of trucks getting stuck on the corner of 24th Avenue and 29th Street as they go onto the RFK Bridge.
The account has posted several sightings of trucks struggling to turn onto 29th Street, causing traffic build up and safety hazards, including one incident that involved a three truck build up that happened over the weekend.
From the weekend… this is like street art or congestion art maybe… Truck blocking a truck blocking a Fire truck #truckart #trucksstuck #nyc #astoria #queens @NYC_DOT @ParkingQueens @Costa4NY #intersection pic.twitter.com/SlZ3lbINTL
— TrucksStuckOnMyCornerNYC (@TrucksStuckNYC) March 11, 2019
“This truck route has been a nuisance in our neighborhood for generations, presenting a serious safety risk from big rigs barreling down 24th Avenue or 29th Street to get on the RFK Triboro Bridge,” Constantinides said.
The council member, who has brought this issue to the attention of the DOT, has asked the agency to consider alternative routes.
The DOT has taken action in the past to reduce the number of big trucks on Astoria streets.
Prior to 2017, a greater number of big rigs used neighborhood streets since they were unable to access the 14-block stretch of the Grand Central Parkway to get onto the RFK-Triborough Bridge. Trucks taller than 12 feet 6 inches were required to exit the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) at Exit 44 and use Astoria Boulevard.
In 2017, the DOT raised the height to 14 feet, thereby reducing the number of big trucks on Astoria Boulevard.
Despite this action, this change only affected trucks coming from the east.
The current problem at 24th Avenue and 29th Street deals mainly with trucks coming from the north or the south on 21st Street.
Florence Koulouris, District Manager of Community Board 1, told the Astoria Post that the issue with this intersection has plagued the neighborhood for years and that she has taken action herself to lessen the trucks hazardously driving down these roads.
“Throughout the 14 years I’ve been here trucks have always been an issue,” Koulouris said.
In regards to finding a permanent solution to this issue, DOT said it is “currently drafting a city-wide Smart Truck Management Plan” that will assess the truck route network now in effect.
The Smart Truck Management plan will be released this year and DOT is expected to get back to Constantinides with possible truck route alternatives to alleviate truck related issues on 24th Avenue and 29th Street.
DOT also said that the process of adding or removing a truck route requires the City’s Law Department to be involved as well as a public comment period. In the meantime, action will be taken to discourage the use of these roadways by large trucks through new signage.