BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Astoria elected officials gathered on Friday morning to celebrate the near completion of a project that would accommodate trucks by allowing them to remain on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), rather than forcing them to take detours on side streets that clog up traffic in western Queens neighborhoods.
Currently, large trucks are required to exit the Grand Central Parkway to enter the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge or BQE, thereby forcing them to drive on Astoria Boulevard. Elected officials said that this increases traffic and causes more fumes to be emitted in Astoria.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) and Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) wrote a joint letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in May suggesting that the agency lower the road bed to accommodate large trucks that have long been detoured onto Astoria Boulevard.
The DOT approved the request, lowering a portion of the road, so that large rigs could pass under four different street overpasses.
“Allowing trucks to remain on the BQE is a common-sense solution that will go a long way toward alleviating the congestion on local roads that burdens so many Astoria residents,” said Crowley.
Gianaris said that although he passed a law a decade ago that allowed trucks to stay on the BQE from the Triborough Bridge, there was still much that needed to be done by the state to ensure that the trucks could fit under the overpasses.
“With this fix now being implemented, Astorians can breathe easier that our air will be cleaner, traffic will be reduced and the unbearable noise and damaged streets to which we’ve grown accustomed will be lessened,” said Gianaris.
The roadway is projected to be completed before the end of the year.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.