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Bill would let trucks drive portion of Grand Central

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State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) obtained a...

By Matthew Monks

The state Legislature has passed a bill to keep trucks off a mile-long stretch of Astoria Boulevard near the Triborough Bridge, a problem residents have complained about for more than a decade.

State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) obtained a temporary Department of Transportation waiver in November to let certain trucks traveling across the bridge connect with the Brooklyn Queens Expressway via the Grand Central Parkway, on which heavy commercial vehicles are banned.

By allowing trucks 12 1/2 feet or under to stay on the brief stretch of highway, the waiver, which Gianaris described as a “pilot program,” cut heavy traffic by 60 percent on Astoria Boulevard from 29th to 46th Street, he said.

The success of the initiative prompted him to introduce a bill to make the change permanent, Gianaris said. It recently passed the House, and state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) successfully sponsored a similar bill in the Senate. The waiver is headed to the governor for signing, Gianaris said.

“The trucks on Astoria Boulevard are a major problem,” Gianaris said. “We’re hoping to make a big dent in it with this program.”

Even with the waiver, however, Astoria Boulevard is still a runway for flatbeds, tractor trailers, and top-heavy commercial vans. At Community Board 1 meetings, residents constantly gripe about trucks that venture from the highway, noisily barreling down narrow side streets.

“Truck problems are a huge source of complaints for my office,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria).

Just last week he said his office got three complaints about the problem. He said Gianaris’s bill was a step in the right direction toward countering the problem.

City Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall also praised also praised the assemblyman’s solution.

“We have received numerous favorable comments from motorists and residents alike since initiating this DOT pilot program in November,” Weinshall said. “Most importantly, we believe that unclogging heavy trucks translates into safer and saner roadways for the people of Astoria.”

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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