One of the most congested and dangerous intersections in Queens may have new safety measures added.
At Community Board 1’s meeting on Tuesday, Robert Piazza, chairman of the Transportation Committee, motioned for the board to approve a plan submitted by the Department of Transportation for traffic-calming measures for the intersection of the Grand Central Parkway, Astoria Boulevard North, and 32nd and 31st streets.
“We’ve been lucky not to have any deaths there, as far as I know, but it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt,” Piazza said. “We’ve been given the opportunity to correct this.”
The major issues at the intersection involve cars coming off the Grand Central Parkway West exit ramp attempting to cross over five lanes to make a right on the fast approaching 31st Street. The same goes for cars on Astoria Boulevard attempting to cross over to make a left.
The intersection has been on the list of the DOT and NYPD for years but this is the first major change being proposed since 1998.
The new plan would insert temporary barrier bumps between the exit ramp and Astoria Boulevard, eliminating the opportunity to cross over all five lanes.
Those traveling on Astoria Boulevard will be forced to turn right on 31st Street or go straight onto Hoyt Avenue North.
Cars coming off the exit ramp will have to turn left or go straight.
“The committee has determined that this is worth a try, it can be reversed if it doesn’t work out,” Piazza said. “Yes, there are ramifications but there is a lot of good that can come from this as well.”
A major concern of board members was traffic. The nearby cross-streets and back roads often back up and a handful of people said this plan will make matters even worse.
One board member suggested the Steinway exit on the highway be reopened but Chairman Vincio Donato said that idea had already been submitted to the state DOT as the highway is a state matter.
After a few minutes of bickering, board member Frances Luhmann-McDonald threw in her two cents.
“To my fellow board members, do yourself a favor and don’t go there,” she said. “I never go there. I go around the area and then circle back. I’d rather walk than drive into this intersection and I don’t like to walk.”
According to the DOT, large signs guiding drivers to alternative routes will be placed near 31st Street and the proposal has already gotten the approval of the 114th Precinct.
After all concerns were shared, an overwhelming majority voted for the board to send their approval of the plan to DOT with only several members voting against.
There is no slated date for the project to begin but either way, Piazza was confident the plan could work.
“There’s going to be a learning curve,” he said. “People are going to realize they can’t turn left or right on this road and they’ll adjust.”