Feb. 24, 2016 By Jackie Strawbridge
A slew of traffic changes coming to the streets around Astoria Park sparked a community petition last week, continuing disagreement over how to best handle these roads.
Last week, Community Board 1 approved three proposals from the Department of Transportation that include revamped roadways with new protected bike lanes on Shore Boulevard, 20th Avenue and Hoyt Avenue North, as well as making Shore Boulevard one-way.
CB 1 voted 34 to one in favor of the DOT’s plan and Councilman Costa Constantinides has also voiced his support, while community members voiced mixed opinions.
The traffic changes are expected to be implemented by the end of the summer.
However, following CB 1’s vote, a Change.org petition was launched to register dissatisfaction with the DOT’s planned traffic changes and propose alternatives.
One substantial alternative that the petition proposes is to build a viaduct on the East River to widen Shore Boulevard, in an effort to keep the bike lanes in the DOT’s plan without losing a lane of traffic.
“[CB 1] voted on a string of safety ‘improvements’ without any input or any consideration for the Community,” the petition reads. “Safety is very important and very paramount but it should also be done in a way that it does not inconvenience others and/or in a way that does not cause friction amongst all members of the community.”
Peter Argyris, who launched the petition, could not immediately be reached for further comment.
When asked for comment on this petition, CB 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris pointed to a community traffic workshop hosted last fall for the DOT to collect ideas, as well as other outreach and walkabouts conducted ahead of the final DOT proposal. She added, “this [traffic plan] is what the people said they wanted.”
Constantinides similarly told the Astoria Post Wednesday, “the traffic safety improvements for the streets surrounding Astoria Park were approved with transparency and following public input at a well-attended workshop, Community Board hearings and by an overwhelming majority of the Board 34-1.”
“Implementing traffic safety measures will make our gateways safer, enhance connections between the park and waterfront, increase ADA accessibility, improve traffic safety for children, and reduce speeding,” he added.
The DOT’s revamp and this petition come on the heels of months of debate over traffic safety around Astoria Park, which has been particularly focused on Shore Boulevard.
Argyris was also behind a popular petition last summer against banning cars on Shore Boulevard, which had been proposed by Assembly Member Aravella Simotas.
That petition garnered more than 1,200 signatures.