Nov. 11, 2015 By Michael Florio
Shore Boulevard will not close to traffic, according to the Department of Transportation.
Following discussions on the controversial proposal, the DOT has decided it will not close Shore Boulevard, Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said at an Astoria Civic Association meeting on Tuesday.
“There are no plans to close Shore Boulevard,” she said.
Trottenberg added that the agency will take a hard look into improving traffic conditions on the entire street network surrounding Astoria Park, including but not exclusive to Shore Boulevard.
“We have to ensure that it is safe for pedestrians trying to go to the park or cyclists,” she said.
Councilman Costa Constantinides, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, emphasized the importance of improving the traffic conditions around the park.
Since 2009 there have been three deaths and close to 100 serious injuries in the streets surrounding Astoria Park, according to Constantinides. Betty Jean Dibiasio, a 21-year-old woman, was struck and killed in a hit-and-run while crossing Ditmars Boulevard at 19th Street in June.
The DOT is working on a plan to improve these conditions.
Trottenberg told those in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting that the agency will present its plan to the community when it is finalized.
She did not go into the specifics of this plan, but reiterated that it will not include the closing of the waterfront road.
“We will not close Shore Boulevard,” she said. “Those worried can rest easy on that front.”
The controversial idea to close Shore Boulevard to vehicles from Astoria Park South to Ditmars Boulevard arose in August, when Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas sent a letter on the topic to the Department of Transportation.
Her idea immediately sparked reactions from residents, both for and against it. Just days later, a resident started a petition against Simotas’ proposal on Change.org.
Peter Argyris, the resident who started that petition, garnered over 1,200 signatures. He printed out his petition and gave a copy to Trottenberg last night.
Argyris was pleased with the decision not to close Shore Boulevard.
“We are happy that it will not be closing,” he said.
He added that this decision would benefit both residents who live in the immediate area, as well as the many visitors to the park.
Constantinides and Simotas held a community meeting in October along with the DOT where residents were able to voice their opinions and provide suggestions to help make the streets around Astoria Park safer.
At that meeting, Simotas told the Astoria Post that improving traffic safety around the park is a large concern of both hers and of all the residents in attendance, and that the DOT should consider all of the ideas that residents came up with to make a decision on what is viable and what is not.
“It should be a collective effort,” she said. “No one person should dictate the solution.”