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Politics

Simotas Calls for Removal of Illegal Billboard from Astoria Blvd. Station

February 23, 2018

NEW YORK – The perennial campaign to keep Astoria’s streets safe got another boost from Assemblymember Aravella Simotas who is calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to remove the giant, flashing billboard it has mounted on the Astoria Boulevard elevated subway station. She called the billboard a dangerous distraction for drivers and said it’s so big that it violates the zoning law that forbids illuminated billboards over 500 square feet in that area. The MTA’s billboard is nearly 700 square feet.

In a February 21 letter to NYC Transit President Andy Byford, Simotas noted that the location of the billboard, facing the intersection of 32nd Street, Astoria Blvd and the Grand Central Parkway exit ramp is “the site with the highest incidence of traffic accidents in our area, according to the 114th Precinct. The MTA’s removal of this glaring distraction would go a long way to mitigate this major safety hazard.”

The billboard hangs brightly in the view of drivers negotiating seven lanes of heavy traffic that converge and turn every which way.

“I know this generates revenue for the MTA but if the price is safety then they need to go back to the drawing board and remove the billboard,” Assemblymember Simotas said.

In a separate February 21 letter to Rick D. Chandler, Commissioner NYC Department of Buildings, Simotas asked that he investigate the zoning violation from the MTA’s illuminated billboard that is over 500 square feet and that he remove the billboard as soon as possible. The text of both letters follows.

Dear President Byford:

I write to request the removal of the digital billboard on the Astoria Boulevard stop on the N/W line.

The digital billboard mounted on the elevated train station at Astoria Boulevard is an accident-causing distraction for drivers. The intersection of 32nd Street, Astoria Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway exit ramp is the site with the highest incidence of traffic accidents in our area, according to the 114th Precinct. The MTA’s removal of this glaring distraction would go a long way to mitigate this major safety hazard. Moreover, the size of the billboard violates the Department of City Planning’s zoning regulations, which prohibit any illuminated sign with a surface area exceeding 500 square feet in the district.

While I understand that the billboard brings revenue to the MTA, it should not come with the expense people’s safety. I look forward to working with you to resolve this issue.

Sincerely,

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas

New York State
36th District – Queens

Dear Commissioner Chandler:

I write to request the removal of the digital billboard on the Astoria Boulevard stop on the N/W line.

The digital billboard mounted on the elevated train station at Astoria Boulevard is an accident-causing distraction for drivers. The intersection of 32nd Street, Astoria Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway exit ramp is the site with the highest incidence of traffic accidents in our area, according to the 114th Precinct. The removal of this glaring distraction would go a long way to mitigate this major safety hazard. Moreover, the size of the billboard violates the Department of City Planning’s zoning regulations. The billboard has a surface area of 672 square feet and is located in a C4 commercial district and Section 32-643 of Article III Chapter 2 of the New York City Zoning Resolution prohibits any illuminated sign exceeding 500 square feet in these districts.

I respectfully request that you look into this matter and remove this dangerous distraction. I look forward to working with you to resolve this issue.

Sincerely,

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas

New York State
36th District – Queens

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