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Fatal Hit-and-Run Spurs Call for Traffic Changes Near Astoria Park

 A memorial for Betty Jean Dibiasio at Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street, where she was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver last month.
A memorial for Betty Jean Dibiasio at Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street, where she was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver last month.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

DITMARS — A neighborhood group and local elected official are looking to slow down speeding drivers around Astoria Park, following a hit-and-run last month that killed a 21-year-old woman.

The Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, a group which represents residents in the areas around and south of the park, wants the city to add speed bumps and possibly a traffic light along Ditmars Boulevard from Shore Boulevard to 21st Street.

Councilman Costa Constantinides is also petitioning for traffic-calming measures around the park, with both parties citing the area as a problem spot for speeding drivers.

"The streets surrounding Astoria Park are a dangerous stretch for pedestrians," said Constantinides. "The corridor is used by many families and children on the way to the park. All the while, many motorists race to and from the park at high rates of speed."

The calls for change come weeks after the death of Betty Jean Dibiasio, an Astoria resident who was killed on June 27 after a being struck by a hit-and-run driver as she was crossing Ditmars Boulevard at 19th Street.

The driver, 24-year-old Nicholas Colleran, ran a stop sign and hit Dibiasio while she was in the crosswalk, then fled the scene, according to the Queens District Attorney's office.

He turned himself in to police a day after the crash, after first filing a phony police report saying his car had been stolen, police said. He's facing a number of charges, including leaving the scene of an incident without reporting a death, the DA said.

Richard Khuzami, the president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, said the park has long been plagued by drivers "speeding and not paying attention."

"It's a place where, for time immemorial, everyone's driven their cars up and down," he said. "It's always been an area where people like to show off their vehicles."

Residents have complained previously about Shore Boulevard in particular, saying the roadway — which runs through Astoria Park along the waterfront — is known for drawing partygoers who play loud music and race along the street.

A spokesman for the Department of Transportation said the agency will be looking at the area around the park for possible safety enhancements.

The DOT added a speed bump last year on Ditmars Boulevard between Shore Boulevard and 19th Street earlier this year.

However, Khuzami said his group would like more speed bumps to be installed, especially closer to 21st Street.

He also said they would also like the DOT to study whether a traffic light is warranted at the intersection of Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street, where Dibiasio was killed. It currently has a stop sign.

A memorial for the 21-year-old has sprung up at the corner filled with candles, flowers, a photo and written messages on the pole of the stop sign.

"You weren't here long enough," one mourner wrote.