BY YVETTE BROWN
On Friday, Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) held a press conference on the corner of 21st Avenue and 23rd Street to focus on the street improvements that were made on 21st Avenue.
Constantinides was joined by Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), Queens Transportation Commissioner Nicole Garcia and state Sens. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), as well as members of Community Board 1.
“This has been a culmination of a six-plus year call by this neighborhood, I was not a councilman at the time, when we began this fight, I was a neighborhood activist working with a team of great people, our local elected officials, our community board, our residents, our principal here at [PS] 122, all saying that it was time for action here,” said Constantinides. “We’ve come to know the street’s dangerous conditions all too well – dozens of injuries and a tragic death. Families have deserved better than the speeding and unsafe conditions that occur here every day. These new traffic lights will help ensure the safety of children who cross this thoroughfare every day to get to school and all residents who wish to cross on 21st Avenue.”
Traffic lights will be installed in late-April at the intersections of 21st Avenue and 23rd, 24th and Crescent streets. There are currently only two traffic lights at the intersection of 21st and 28th streets and there no stop signs along the thoroughfare between the East River and 31st Street. This poses a threat to the surrounding schools, PS 122, St. John’s Preparatory and Kid Krazy day care center with students crossing the street daily.
“Safety is our number one priority and we are happy work with local partners to improve this community corridor,” said Garcia. “These new signals, coupled with last year’s reduction of the speed limit to 25 miles per hour, will enhance safety for all in the neighborhood.”
Peralta explained that it’s important to make sure that all streets are safe and that the Vision Zero Plan is to make sure that there is “Zero” fatalities for both pedestrians and drivers.
“It is vital that we come together and keep pushing for measures that would improve road and street safety for everyone. We must ensure we do everything possible to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries, and installing more traffic lights is just one step we can take to help achieve that goal,” said Peralta.
According to City Council, “After the 2009 death of an Astoria resident on the corner of 21st Avenue and 23rd Street due to a car crash, a coalition of elected officials and the community members held rallies to ask for traffic safety improvements on 21st Avenue. In 2010, a speed bump on 21st Avenue and 26th Street was installed, heeding calls for traffic safety, but no additional further steps were taken until now.” There has been one fatality and dozens of injuries since 2009.
The next steps, according to Constantinides, are to tackle the streets around Astoria Park.
“One traffic death is too many,” said Constantinides. “To explain to that family that their family member had passed because of a preventable death, something we could have done, we will leave no stone un-turned to make sure that we can ensure that residents feel safe walking the street in their own neighborhoods.”
Reach reporter Yvette Brown at (718) 357-7400 x128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Eveywrites