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Simotas calls on DOT to follow through with its traffic-safety plans at Astoria Blvd/31st Street intersection


Jan. 28, 2015 By Michael Florio

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas is trying to put the heat on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to fix a dangerous Astoria intersection.

Simotas sent a letter to the agency last week regarding its failure to follow through with its traffic safety plans at the intersection of 32nd Street, Grand Central Parkway (exit 45 ramp) and Astoria Blvd North.

Simotas wrote that one traffic light is currently handling two lanes of traffic exiting Grand Central Parkway and four lanes of traffic from Astoria Boulevard North.

“This creates a situation where vehicles are routinely forced to cross three, four and even five lanes of traffic to make the desired turn onto 31st Street,” Simotas wrote.

The DOT presented a number of safety improvements to the intersection at the beginning of 2014. It said it would extend the existing median barrier between Astoria Blvd North and the Grand Central highway exit ramp to separate traffic through 31st Street (see proposal).

The plan would stop cars coming down Astoria Blvd North from making a left turn on 31st street, while blocking those vehicles coming off the highway from making a right turn.

The DOT presented these changes to Community Board 1 in May, where they were approved to begin work on the intersection.

The DOT said that these changes would be complete by the fall of 2014. However, the safety improvements have yet to be implemented.

“There is no good reason why residents and motorists should still be endangered at this intersection after DOT and the Community Board have agreed on what needs to be done,” Simotas said. .

Simotas said she wants to see action to make this intersection safer for both vehicles and pedestrians as soon as possible, and will continue to press the DOT until they do so.

“This intersection is dangerous and confusing,” Simotas said. “Motorists from the area dread crossing multiple lanes of traffic to get home and drivers new to the area have no idea how to get where they are going.”

DOT Plans for Astoria Blvd North by sunnysidepost

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I agree that the intersection is horrendous. However, what is the solution for drivers trying to get off Grand Central and go north of Astoria Blvd towards Ditmars Blvd? The unintended consequences of the proposal will increase traffic on 28th Street – a side street that cannot sustain the new traffic pattern.
You may say, well get off at the 82nd Street exit and head down Astoria Blvd with the intention of turning right down 31st Street. Sounds good, but that exit during rush hour is already terrible with the backup before the BQE. This plan won’t work. You just need alternating lights so drivers at the 31st exit can traverse those lanes safely without worry of hitting a car coming down Astoria Blvd north.


Likewise, what about drivers coming off the RFK/ Triboro Br. wanting to go to Ditmars? It’s not legal to turn left on 31St. off the bridge, so one would make a left at 33rd, left on Astoria Blvd, right on 31St. With this plan drivers would go to 35St… more traffic on Astoria Blvd.


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