2017-12-20 / Features

Applaud State Action To Keep Big Rigs On BQE, Off Astoria Boulevard


Astoria officials announced and applauded Gov. Cuomo’s action to keep big trucks on the BQE and thus off Astoria Boulevard. (L. to r.): New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas, Community Board 1 (CB1) District Manager Florence Koulouris, CB1 Chair Marie Torniali, House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, and City Council Member Costa Constantinides. Astoria officials announced and applauded Gov. Cuomo’s action to keep big trucks on the BQE and thus off Astoria Boulevard. (L. to r.): New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas, Community Board 1 (CB1) District Manager Florence Koulouris, CB1 Chair Marie Torniali, House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, and City Council Member Costa Constantinides. By the end of the year, larger trucks will be allowed to remain on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) and will no longer be detoured onto Astoria’s local streets, announced the four Queens elected officials who represent Astoria: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, NYS Assembly Member Aravella Simotas and NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides. The officials cheered the end of “gridlock, window-rattling noise and noxious fumes from 18-wheelers having to detour into the neighborhood.”

In a May 2017 letter to the state Department of Transportation (DOT), the officials suggested that lowering the road bed in order to accommodate 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 DOT began construction work to lower the roadway and it will be complete before the end of the year.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Crowley said, “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. I was proud to join our local elected officials in this effort and I thank the Department of Transportation for working with us to deliver safer streets, reduce traffic-related pollution, and improve the overall quality of life in our community.”

Senator Gianaris said, “It’s great to finally 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 Brooklyn-Queens Ex- pressway, 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 (knowing) 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.”

Assembly Member 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 to the community this holiday season and I thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Transportation for listening to our request, acknowledging the needless suffering of this community and getting this project done in record time.”

Council Member 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 drive 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 to reach a longterm solution.”

“This common-sense infrastructure project will improve truck access on I-278 while enhancing safety and quality of life for hardworking Queens residents,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “Working with the local community and truckers, we are correcting a longstanding inconvenience, improving safety, reducing congestion as well as helping trucks and area residents get around safely and more efficiently.”

New York State Department of Transportation 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. These improvements on I-287 in Queens will speed commerce and reduce truck traffic on local streets, in turn improving the quality of life for New York’s families.”

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