June 5, 2017 By Jason Cohen
Astoria lawmakers are calling on the Department of Transportation to allow large trucks to travel on a small section of the Grand Central Parkway—between the RFK-Triborough Bridge and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway– in order to alleviate traffic on Astoria Blvd and surrounding streets.
Large trucks are not permitted to travel on the parkway requiring big-rig drivers to exit the BQE and RFK Bridge, resulting in heavy traffic on the service roads and streets. Smaller trucks are permitted on the parkway between the RFK Bridge and the western end of the BQE.
Elected officials want large trucks to be able to go on the parkway along this same stretch so they don’t clog traffic.
“All Astorians deserve access to streets without unbearable traffic, loud noise and heavy fumes,” said Councilman Cost Constantinides (D-Astoria) at a press conference Friday at Columbus Triangle, located at Astoria Boulevard South between 31st & 32nd Streets.
“Opening the parkway to all trucks between the BQE and the bridge would be beneficial to our environment and for traffic safety. Taking this move would be a solid step towards Astoria Blvd. feeling less like a highway for big trucks and more like the street that our seniors, families and residents need it to be every day.”
State Senator Michael Gianaris, who has been in contact with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the governor about this issue, said the road to needs to be dug up so the overpasses are high enough for the large trucks. The DOT told him this is financially feasible and the next step is to put this in the budget for next year.
“It’s going to be pennies compared to the amount of money they spent to rebuild the Kosciuszko Bridge or Tappan Zee Bridge,” Gianaris said. “So it’s really a small dedication of resources at the state level for a certain peace of mind for an entire neighborhood.”
Several Astoria residents commended the pols for trying to combat the traffic problem. Matthew Weiss, who has lived on 33rd St. and Astoria Blvd. for 20 years, said he hopes the DOT will listen to the elected officials and make the proper changes.
“This is a pedestrian neighborhood and we’re dealing with giant machines rolling through here at all hours of the day and night,” Weiss said.
“I know that this intersection is one the most dangerous in all of New York City and a large part of that is these gigantic semi-tractor trailers that are competing with regular motorists.”