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Yesterday, local pols, the Department of Transportation and David Byrne (!) celebrated an $800,000 grant from J.P. Morgan Chase for Corona Plaza. DNAinfo and Streetsblog attended the event and said the grant will be used to maintain the pedestrian space and its new features for the coming years. Corona Plaza costs around $50,000 to $75,000 every year to maintain. Over the summer, the Department of Transportation started working on making the temporary plaza permanent. The goal is to finish the project, which includes a stage, better lighting, more green space and seating, in 2015.

So what brought the Talking Heads frontman all the way out to Corona Plaza? According to DNAinfo he told the crowd, “I’m not personally involved in this plaza, but I’m a musician and I live and work and am very supportive of these things going up everywhere. I’m just here to be supportive, and hope that this kind of initiative continues in the city.” We’ll take it!

David Byrne in Corona to Celebrate $800K Grant for Pedestrian Plazas [DNAinfo]
Ped Plazas in Low-Income Neighborhoods Get $800,000 Boost From Chase [Streetsblog]
Corona Plaza On Track to Be Upgraded from Temporary to Permanent [Q’Stoner]

Photo via Twitter

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Yesterday, Assembly Member Aravella Simotas met with the Department of Transportation and Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall to discuss possible fixes for a dangerous intersection in Astoria. The location in question is at 32nd Street and Astoria Boulevard North, adjacent to the exit ramp of the Grand Central Parkway. The 114th Precinct calls this the most accident-prone intersection in the area — according to a press release, “Currently, drivers exiting the Grand Central Parkway must cross three crowded lanes of traffic, often composed of truck traffic driving west on Astoria Boulevard North, in order to reach local streets. Likewise, trucks exiting the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway following Astoria Boulevard must cross this local traffic to reach the RFK Bridge and points west.” This creates gridlock as well as numerous pedestrian and automobile accidents.

In coming months, Assembly Member Simotas will work with the DOT and Commissioner Hall to determine the best means of re-configuring the intersection. As Simotas says, “Our goal is to ensure the free flow of traffic, pedestrians, and goods through Astoria as safely as possible.”

Photo via the Office of Assembly Member Aravella Simotas

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At last night’s Community Board One meeting, the Department of Transportation announced that it is beginning the planning process to install bike share in Astoria. “This is not an announcement that bike share is officially coming to Astoria,” explained Jon Orcutt, of the DOT. “This is the start of the planning process… and the first of many meetings.” The Citi Bike planning process takes 18 to 24 months before installation, and the DOT plans to work very closely with the Astoria community in that time. The DOT already spoke with Senator Michael Gianaris at his request in regards to potential locations; the city is considering a rough boundary that follows the N/Q line although nothing is set in stone. The final locations will not be decided until after significant community outreach, and an open web portal for residents to leave location suggestions will launch soon.

The Department of Transportation is also working with Community Board Two in Long Island City, where the preliminary planning process has already begun. At this rate, a chunk of Western Queens will have its very own Citi Bike set-up sometime in 2015. Exciting stuff!

Photo via NYC DOT

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We have word via Twitter that construction started up at the Ridgewood plaza at the the intersection of 71st Avenue at Stephen Street and Myrtle Avenue. The Department of Transportation announced that it would transform the temporary plaza into a permanent space over the summer. The permanent plaza will feature stone block seating, expanded planting areas, new concrete, a drinking fountain, two permanent chess tables, bike racks and a rain garden. (Check out the DOT’s entire proposal here.) No word on how long construction will last.

Temporary 71st Avenue Plaza Likely to Become Permanent Fixture in Ridgewood [Q’Stoner]

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This week city officials told Community Board Two there are definite plans to install shared and buffered bike lanes on 11th Street, 39th Street, 49th Avenue and Skillman Avenue in 2014. The Daily News reports that the city wants to create north-south connections and east-west connections with the lanes, as well as connections to the Pulaski Bridge, Queens Plaza, Hunters Point, and of course to Sunnyside. CB2 asked for more bike parking locations in Long Island City and city officials said they’d look into potential spots. The board initially approved these changes over the summer, so there was no controversy at the meeting this week. Back then, the city aimed to install these lanes before the end of the year, but it looks like the timetable’s been pushed back.

City Announces More Bike Lanes for Long Island City [NY Daily News]
New Bike Routes, Lane Markings Coming to LIC, Sunnyside [Q’Stoner]

Map via DOT

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The New York Daily News reports an update on the Pulaski Bridge bike lane proposal, something that DOT committed to back in May. DOT plans to remove a single lane of traffic to make way for a dedicated bike lane between Long Island City and Greenpoint some time next year. The city is just finishing up with an engineering study of the bridge, after which it expects to present the proposed streetscape changes to the Queens and Brooklyn community boards in December. At this point, local pols, pedestrians, community boards and nearby businesses have all expressed support for the proposed bicycle lane.

Bikers to Get Dedicated Lane on Pulaski Bridge Between Brooklyn and Queens [NY Daily News]
Headway on Several Streetscape Proposals for Long Island City and Astoria [Q’Stoner]

Photo by NYC Tom

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The Department of Transportation will install two Neighborhood Slow Zones in Queens by 2014, one in Sunnyside Gardens and Woodside and another in Sunnyside south of Queens Boulevard (map pictured above). A press release by Council Member Van Bramer, who requested the slow zones, says “The ultimate goal of the Neighborhood Slow Zone program is to lower the incidence and severity of crashes. Slow zones also seek to enhance quality of life for local residents by reducing cut-through traffic and traffic noise in residential areas.” The slow zones will be marked by high-visibility blue gateway signs at all streets entering the area, with special signage noting the 20 mph speed limit in the zone. The DOT will also install speed bumps and road stenciling of “20 MPH” to make it clear motorists are in a reduced speed area. The DOT selected these particular locations because of schools and daycare centers in the area, a significant number of crashes, and community support. Check out a map of the Sunnyside Gardens and Woodside zone after the jump.

Map via the Department of Transportation

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Today Senator Michael Gianaris announced that the Department of Transportation approved a street resurfacing project at Hazen Street and Ditmars Boulevard, in Astoria. Nearby residents expressed concern over poor pavement conditions at this location, pointing out that the intersection is host to a high volume of foot and car traffic. Senator Gianaris had this to say in a press release: “It is unacceptable for seniors to be afraid to walk in their own neighborhood or for drivers to be wary of damaging their cars due to poorly paved roads. I am glad the DOT listened to our community and is taking steps to remedy this problem as quickly as possible.” UPDATE: The folks at Senator Gianaris’ office just checked out the streets in question and saw that the DOT already started work on the project; the improvements are pictured above. After the jump, check out the block before the improvements… GMAP

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Another permanent plaza for Queens. The Department of Transportation and the design firm The RBA Group presented designs for Corona Plaza to the community late last month. A temporary plaza has been in place on Roosevelt Avenue between National and 104th Street since the middle of last year. According to the Queens Courier, DOT and the community have been in talks about the permanent plaza design since this spring. The permanent design will feature plaza seating, bike racks and corrals, a stage, green space, improved lighting, signage, additional trash cans, a drinking fountain, and an information kiosk; DOT also plans to utilize the space right under the 7 train for storage. The next step is for the Public Design Commission to review these renderings within the next few months, with an eye to installing the permanent plaza by 2015.

Potential Plans for Corona Plaza Released [Queens Courier]