2018-01-03 / Features

Road Improvements Allow Truck Traffic To Ride All Of BQE


A tractortrailer approaching the GCP in Astoria. A tractortrailer approaching the GCP in Astoria. The portion of Interstate 278 on the Grand Central Parkway that connects the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) to the Robert F. Kennedy Triborough Bridge dates back to the 1930s and excepting exemptions for smaller trucks, larger trucks were not allowed on the parkway, making Astoria Boulevard a truck route to the bridge.

Last May, the four elected officials who represent Astoria, Congress Member Joe Crowley, NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Aravella Simotas and Council Member Costa Constantinides, sent a letter to the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) suggesting that lowering the roadbed in order to accommodate large trucks was a workable solution to the traffic nightmare on Astoria Boulevard.

On December 22, the state DOT concluded a $2.5 million project that lowered the roadbed of the section of the parkway that is concurrent with I-278 giving that portion a 14-foot vertical clearance and allowing trucks to stay on I-278.

“Amazing news,” tweeted Simotas. “Starting Friday, December 22, big trucks won’t be forced to detour onto our local streets, Hooray!”

Constantinides tweeted “We’re proud that the construction project to lower the BQE so trucks don’t have to exit onto Astoria Blvd.” was completed in time for holiday travel.

Clearances at the 31st Street, 69th Street, and Broadway bridges were increased by lowering the roadway, micro-milling the concrete pavement and lowering catch basins. The roadway would also be resurfaced and striped and all signs that had diverted trucks to local streets would be removed, said a December 15 NYS DOT press release. Previously, trucks with a height of more than 12 feet, 6 inches were directed to exit from I-278 and use routes along Astoria Boulevard, Queens Boulevard, Northern Boulevard and Broadway.

“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,” said Crowley. “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.”

“It’s great to finally see our full vision for a truck-free Astoria Boulevard realized,” said Gianaris in a press release.

Gianaris, after passing the law over a decade ago allowing some trucks to stay on the highway between the bridge and the BQE, said there was a need for the state to create enough clearance so the biggest trucks could fit under the overpasses.

“With this fix implemented, Astorians can breathe easier 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,” he said.

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