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.”
Closing a major roadway to vehicles was short-sighted and descrimatory to vehicle drivers. Not all of us are “noisy or dangerous”. Yes there will be issues if pedestrians jay-walk into the street obviously. There are already speed bumps and 25% of the road is used for bikers and pedestrians.
Should we just close all the streets and make them walkways and plazas? Do you all think everyone lives within walking distance of everything?
I can not vote or be involved with anyone who wages war against cars and tries to revoke our rights as motorists to freely travel where we want.
When i reviewed the on line petition I saw so many signatures locations were out of state from people claiming they visit the park. When something is over the internet anyone can sign. I suggest the next time this issue is addressed we start an on line petition to close Shore Blvd. I am sure the residents were concerned about the parking and traffic issues that would arise by closing Shore Blvd and had very little to do with nostalgia or being ale to drive and park on the shore blvd. Its a shame, this could of been a safe zone for many park visitors.
I guess DOT will revisit and address traffic concerns on/near Shore Boulevard the next time there is an accident and possible fatality.
They probably live nowhere near the park and probably don’t have to dodge 20/yr old kids driving a mustangs. At this point the only thing Astoria Park is missing is a Thunder Dome.
I’d bet a few their nephews are the ones driving those cars and that’s why they don’t close it.
Phew. I was worried i wouldnt get to listen to rap music and salsa blasting from parked cars. Dodging the racing motorcycles and atv’s (?!?!) has become one of my favorite forms of exercise, and I can suck in all the car exhaust from grumpy old men sitting in their running cars watching the water pass by.
shame. The safety of our children and selves is out aside so inconsiderate asshats can sit in the running car and watch the skyline.
A lot of these issues have to do with the WAY people drive near the park. As a resident who lives only 2 blocks from the park, I see it all the time. I am a runner and am constantly stopping at intersections and corners because drivers are speeding down the road, and I am not always sure they are going to stop at the stop sign!
I drive in the area as well, and countless drivers refuse to use signals when turning. Although it is a small issue, it helps create traffic problems along with pedestrians not always knowing what a driver will do until they do it.
Having police enforce the law with signal tickets and stop sign tickets is very important to pedestrian and cyclist safety! Although, I often see police in cars failing to do the same as these drivers!
Bikes are the biggest problem. Weaving in and out and not obeying there bike lanes.
“Bikes are the biggest problem” Well, I rather get hit by a bike than a car!!
How exactly is it “not beneficial” to close the Shore Road to noisy, dangerous, and obnoxious vehicles of all types, that ruin what might otherwise be a halfway decent shoreline experience? This is another missed opportunity in Astoria. Cars rule and people don’t matter.