BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative continues working to change the face of Queens, intersection by intersection.
At its monthly meeting last Tuesday, Community Board 1 approved a DOT proposal to divert traffic on Astoria Boulevard between 32nd Street and 29th Street. The proposal hinges on shifting a merging zone – currently situated before the subway overpass at 31st Street – west past the overpass.
Vision Zero is the City’s plan for ending traffic deaths. The plan incorporates a number of techniques to achieve this goal, from slow zones to community education to street redesigns, such as this diversion on Astoria Boulevard.
According to Sean Quinn, who represented the DOT at the CB1 meeting, the logic of the change is that moving the merging zone down the road will maximize space and minimize volume through which to merge, as many cars will have already turned off.
The 114th Precinct has identified this intersection as the most accident-prone in the area.
According to Quinn, the DOT attempted to address the chaos at this intersection in the late 1990s by modifying signal timing, but the effort was unsuccessful.
“That place is a nightmare,” said Bob Piazza, longtime CB1 member and chair of the CB1 transportation committee. “There [are] going to be some dramatic changes but it’s going to make that intersection much, much safer.”
Board members were concerned that the redesign would bring traffic to Crescent Street, where cars prevented by the new median from making a left turn will go to do so.
“We don’t anticipate a very high uptick of traffic on Crescent due to this diversion,” Quinn responded.
“This proposal will eliminate dangerous lane-changing maneuvers and guide traffic in a safer, easily-understood lane configuration,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) in a statement released earlier this month. “Motorists should never have to put their lives at risk crossing multiple lanes of traffic just to get home.”
Other recent Vision Zero initiatives in the region include the addition of an arterial slow zone to Northern Boulevard and a weekend-long speeding-enforcement blitz.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.