ASTORIA – By the end of the year, large trucks will be allowed to remain on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) and will no longer be detoured onto Astoria’s local streets. Announce the four Queens elected officials who represent Astoria- Rep. Joe Crowley, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, New York State Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, and New York City Councilmember Costa Constantinides.
The officials cheered the end of gridlock, window-rattling noise and noxious fumes from 18-wheelers having to detour into the neighborhood. The announcement took place on December 15 at the Columbus Triangle, Astoria Blvd. South and 31st Street in Astoria.
In a May 2017 letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the officials suggested lowering the road level in order to accommodate the large trucks was a feasible solution to Astoria Boulevard’s traffic nightmare. The officials applauded the state DOT for responding and lowering a portion of the road bed so that large rigs could safely pass under four different street overpasses. On November 12, the state DOT began construction work to lower the roadway and it will be completed before the end of the year.
U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley said, “Allowing trucks to remain on the BQE is a commonsense solution that will go a long way toward alleviating the congestion on local roads that burdens so many Astoria residents. I was proud to join our local elected officials in this effort and I thank the DOT for working with us to deliver safer streets, reduce traffic-related pollution, and improve the overall quality of life in our community.”
State Senator Michael Gianaris said, “It’s great to see our full vision for a truck-free Astoria Boulevard realized. When I passed the law over a decade ago allowing trucks to stay on the highway between the Triborough Bridge and the BQE, the state still needed to create enough clearance so the biggest 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 damages streets to which we’ve grown accustomed will be lessened.”
Assemblymember Aravella Simotas said, “A long horrible nightmare for the people who live, work, travel, and raise their families in this Astoria neighborhood is finally ending. I can’t think of a nicer gift this holiday season and I thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state DOT for listening to our request, acknowledging the needless suffering of this community, and getting this project done in record time.”
NYC Councilmember Costa Constantinides said, “Lowering the roadway to allow trucks to stay on the highway will bring benefits to traffic safety and our environment. Astoria Boulevard, known for its highway feel, will experience less truck traffic to make the street feel more incorporated into the community. This will benefit our seniors and families who walk and rive along it. We all deserve access to streets without unbearable traffic congestion, loud noises, and heavy fumes. Thank you to my partners in state government for helping reach a long-term solution.”
New York State DOT Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas, U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, NYS Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, and NYC Councilmember Costa Constantinides, Dec. 15, 2017. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
“This commonsense infrastructure project will improve truck access to I-278 while enhancing safety and quality of life for residents in Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside, Jackson Heights, and Elmhurst,” Governor Cuomo said. “Working with the local community and truckers, we are correcting a long-standing inconvenience, improving safety, reducing congestion, and helping trucks and area residents get around safely and more efficiently.”
New York State DOT Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, “Governor Cuomo is leading the way on transportation improvements across New York State, enhancing safety while supporting economic growth. The improvements on I-278 in Queens will speed commerce and reduce truck traffic on local streets, in turn improving the quality of life for New York’s families.”
Also in attendance at the news conference were District Manager of Queens Community Board No. 1 Florence Koulouris, Marie Torniali- Executive Director of Central Astoria Local Development Coalition, members of the community, and the media.
New York State DOT Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas, U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, NYS Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, and NYC Councilmember Costa Constantinides, Dec. 15, 2017. (Photo by TNH/Costas Bej)