Jan. 21, 2016 By Jackie Strawbridge
The Department of Transportation has proposed making Shore Boulevard one-way and adding new bike lanes in the area, earning the approval of Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee and positive words from local elected officials.
Under the DOT’s proposal, the northbound traffic lane on Shore Boulevard would be removed, so traffic would move one-way from Ditmars Boulevard to Astoria Park South.
DNA Info first reported on the proposal.
This lane removal would make way for a two-lane protected bike path on the road.
Currently, a two-way bike path runs along the park’s edge next to a pedestrian walkway, which the DOT said causes conflict between cyclists and walkers.
Other proposed changes include the installation of two-way protected bike lanes on 20th Avenue and Hoyt Avenue North.
The agency brought the plan before Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee, which voted unanimously to recommend its approval, according to a spokesman.
The spokesman said that while he is concerned about the removal of driving lanes with heavy development on the horizon at Hallets Point and Astoria Cove, ultimately “the benefits I think will outweigh losing the one direction [of vehicle traffic] on the park.”
He cited as a primary benefit the separation of the bike lanes out of Astoria Park, to cut off cyclist access to the pedestrian-only paths within the park.
The DOT’s proposal follows a community workshop held in October for the agency to collect feedback and safety priorities for the area from local residents.
Traffic on Shore Boulevard has been a hot button issue since Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas proposed closing the street to traffic in an August letter to the DOT, which has been a highly polarizing idea among residents.
Regarding the DOT’s new proposal, the Assemblywoman said, “the changes announced by the Department of Transportation and recommended by Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee will improve access to the Park and make our community safer. I am pleased that we reached a compromise on Shore Boulevard that calms speeding and dangerous driving and preserves vehicle access to the waterfront.”
Councilman Costa Constantinides has also been pushing for safety upgrades around Astoria Park. He released a petition for comprehensive traffic safety improvements in the area after the fatal hit-and-run of a young woman on Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street.
“We [were] glad to see the unanimous support of this plan from Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee. This plan is a strong first step forward in improving traffic safety around the jewel of our community- Astoria Park,” Constantinides said. “The stronger connection between the waterfront, Astoria Park, and residents will be an asset for our entire neighborhood. I look forward to hearing feedback from our community and to continuing our conversation about the streets surrounding Astoria Park.”
The proposal is next expected to go before the full Community Board for a vote.