Residents Mull Safety Solutions for Busy Newtown Avenue

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on June 4, 2012 6:13pm 

The intersection of Newtown Avenue near 33rd Street has been considered dangerous for a long time, officials say.
The intersection of Newtown Avenue near 33rd Street has been considered dangerous for a long time, officials say.
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DOT

ASTORIA — The busy intersection of Newtown Avenue and 33rd Street, next to the popular Athens Café, has been a hazard for pedestrians for years, residents say.

They, along with local businesses owners, will have a chance to discuss their ideas and concerns for how to fix it at a public workshop Tuesday. Representatives from Department of Transportation, the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition and Community Board 1 will be present at the meeting.

At this point, there are no formal proposals, according to the DOT, but one option being considered is a partial closure of Newtown Avenue at 33rd Street to create a pedestrian plaza.

But that plan has some local merchants worried that the potential closure of Newtown Avenue would hurt their businesses and fail to improve traffic conditions, according to City Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr.’s office.

Some also point out that a pedestrian plaza would lead to the loss of parking spaces.

Others, like Mohammed Yafai, manager of Blue Moon conveninence store on 30th Avenue, support the idea.

"We don't need more parking spaces," he said. "We need more space for people."

Another option that has been discussed would be to build a curb extension, which would create more space for pedestrians.

“The intersection is very dangerous for pedestrians to cross,” said Marie Torniali, executive director of the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition, a local advocacy group, supporting safety enhancement at the intersection.
 
Torniali said there have been accidents at this intersection in the past and the idea to make it “safer and more esthetically pleasing” has been discussed for more than two decades.                         

The meeting will be held Tuesday, June 5, between 6:30 and 8 p.m. at the Astoria Manor, located at 25-22 Astoria Boulevard.

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