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City Rejected Calls for Stoplight at Site of Fatal Astoria Hit-and-Run

 A man was fatally hit on 21st Street, near 30th Road, by a sedan that fled the scene, police said.
A man was fatally hit on 21st Street, near 30th Road, by a sedan that fled the scene, police said.
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DNAinfo/Kathleen Culliton

ASTORIA — The dangerous intersection where a man was killed by a hit-and-run driver Wednesday night has been a problem spot for years — and the city previously shot down requests to put a traffic light there, advocates say.

The 45-year-old victim, whose name has not been released, died after he was struck in the middle of 21st Street just north of 30th Road by the driver of a dark sedan who took off before police arrived, according to the NYPD.

Locals say the intersection is a perilous one, where nine others have been injured in traffic incidents since 2014, city data shows. But when the Department of Transportation studied it last year, it said a stop light wasn't warranted there.

A DOT spokeswoman said the corner didn't meet the agency's criteria for a traffic light — specific federal guidelines that look at conditions of intersections including traffic and pedestrian volume.

It's not clear specifically which criteria the location failed to meet, and the DOT did not immediately respond to an inquiry asking for more details.

"The idea that this street isn’t meeting their warrants — I'm not a traffic engineer, but that boggles my mind," said Peter Beadle, a volunteer with Transportation Alternative's Queens Committee.

The group has campaigned for fixes on 21st Street since at least 2013, saying the street is prone to speeding drivers and heavy traffic.

"This should not happen. That guy was my age," Beadle said of the hit-and-run victim. "He has a family. He shouldn't be dead."

The city has made changes to other intersections along this stretch of 21st Street, between Queens Plaza and Hoyt Avenue South — a section it deemed a "high crash corridor," where five people were killed and 14 others seriously injured between 2009 and 2013.

Last year, the DOT added a traffic light at 29th Avenue and extended curbs to shorten the distance pedestrians have to cross at nine intersections on 21st Street — but not at 30th Road, where the hit-and-run took place.

The corner has no traffic light or crosswalk, despite being a popular point for pedestrians, with a Boys and Girls Club location on one corner and homes and apartment buildings on the others.

Those who need to cross there are forced to contend with the busy traffic along 21st Street, or must walk to another intersection that has a light or crosswalk.

"It’s a recipe for disaster, as we're seeing right now," said Jaime Moncayo, an organizer with Transportation Alternatives.

Following Wednesday's fatality, the DOT said it is taking another look at the intersection for potential safety changes, according to a spokeswoman.

But Moncayo thinks that should have happened long ago.

"We want them to act before the tragedy," he said. "You can't argue that you didn’t know."