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Shore Boulevard in Astoria Park Should Be Closed to Cars, Official Says

 Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas is asking the DOT to close Shore Boulevard to traffic between Astoria Park South and Ditmars Boulevard.
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas is asking the DOT to close Shore Boulevard to traffic between Astoria Park South and Ditmars Boulevard.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

DITMARS — A local official is calling for a car-free Shore Boulevard in Astoria Park.

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas sent a letter to the Department of Transportation this week asking it to close part of the waterfront roadway to traffic, citing the street as a problem spot for accidents, drag racing drivers and noisy idling cars.

She's proposed banning all but emergency vehicles on the portion of the road that runs through Astoria Park, between Astoria Park South and Ditmars Boulevard.

"What it really should be is a pedestrian walkway," Simotas said, saying people would feel safer visiting the waterfront without having to cross the busy street. "There would be a lot more people who could utilize and enjoy that area."

Shore Boulevard has garnered complaints from residents for years — in 2012, neighbors told DNAinfo the street was "like a club," in the summer, with people idling their cars, drinking and blasting loud music.

The same stretch of road was one of 24 city streets targeted in 2002 by "Operation Silent Night," an initiative by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg that sought to address areas with excessive noise problems.

"It's kind of a constant thing," said Simotas, a lifelong Astoria resident who said she's always known the boulevard to be a problem spot. "Growing up, there wasn't anything good that happened at night on that strip, ever."

There were 18 traffic accidents, four that caused injuries, on that portion of Shore Boulevard from August 2011 through this June, NYPD data shows. Right now, cars are not allowed to park there overnight, and there are no homes or businesses on the part of the street that runs through the park.

"It really serves no other purpose for people just to drive there," she said.

In a statement, the DOT said it's open to working with Simotas and the rest of the community on making the roadway safer.

Shore Boulevard does get closed to cars once a year for the Astoria Shore Fest — part of the Department of Transportation's Weekend Walks programs — which turns the street into a pedestrian space for the day to host concerts and family-friendly activities.

Astoria Park Alliance, a neighborhood group that runs the annual Shore Fest event, said it supports Simotas' proposal for a car-free Shore Boulevard because it would "ensure pedestrian safety, increase programming potential, and fulfill the vision" that the park was founded on.

"Astoria Park was created to give park users access to the waterfront," the group said in a statement.

Simotas is the most recent elected official looking to address traffic regulations near Astoria Park.

Last month, City Councilman Costa Constantinides and a nearby neighborhood association both called for traffic-calming measures for the streets around the park, following a hit-and-run that killed a 21-year-old woman.