Today’s news:

Stoplight at 21st St. hailed

The executive director of an Astoria Boys and Girls Club said she and other neighbors of a deadly intersection on 21st Street have been able to breathe a sigh of relief following the installation of a long−awaited traffic signal at the site last fall.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D−Astoria) helped secure the light at the intersection of 21st Street and 30th Drive in October following a six−year effort to make the corner safer. His father, former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., had originally attempted to get a light at the intersection 40 years ago when he was the president of the Astoria Civic Association.

“I’m not a big proponent of having lights every 100 feet in Astoria, which makes it difficult to travel around” Vallone Jr. said. “But this light was necessary. I have a massive file dating back to 1968 with newspaper clippings of accidents at that intersection.”

The corner has been the site of numerous accidents over a period of years, including a slew of accidents and a hit−and−run death, the councilman said. In 1972, two brothers, ages 7 and 11, were hit by cars at the intersection during two separate incidents, he said.

But Karen Johnson, executive director of the Variety Boys and Girls Club, said the corner has been safer since the traffic light was installed. She said the club, often filled with young children, and a senior citizens center are both near the intersection.

“Seniors and children are two incredibly high−risk groups for crossing the street and 21st Street is very scary,” she said. “It was a very unsafe intersection.”

She said the neighborhood now felt much safer.

“Residents had wanted this for 30 years,” she said. “It helps me sleep better now that our kids can safely cross the street.”

Vallone said the former city Traffic Department, now the city Department of Transportation, had conducted an investigation of the site during Mayor John Lindsay’s tenure, but found there was no need for a light at the corner. Astoria residents made repeated requests to the city to install a light, but they were all turned down, the councilman said.

“Every year of hard work was worth it, knowing that our residents will be safer,” Vallone said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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