Busy Bay Ridge intersection under study

October 24, 2011 Helen Klein
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A city proposal to reconfigure the intersection of 86th Streetand Fourth Avenue to make it easier to navigate has gone back tothe drawing board.

A special committee organized by Community Board 10 to deal withpedestrian safety objected to aspects of the plan, presented tothem earlier this month by the Department of Transportation (DOT),and DOT officials promised to reconsider the proposal, saidcommittee Chairperson George Fontas, during the board’s Octobermeeting.

Among the aspects that the committee found most problematic,according to Fontas, was restricting vehicles on 86th Streetheading northbound from turning left onto Fourth Avenue, Giventhat 86th Street is a major route to Fourth Avenue, and given thatFifth Avenue also has a restriction on left-hand turns.

The left turn is something that a lot of people in the communityuse, Fontas later noted, and giving people a way of getting ontoFourth Avenue is important.

The committee also objected to the DOT’s proposal to eliminate alane of moving traffic in each direction on 86th Street betweenFourth Avenue and Shore Road, and particularly on the stretchbetween Fourth and Third Avenues, Fontas said, citing the number ofStaten Island-bound buses that wait for passengers along FourthAvenue at the intersection.

We indicated that losing a lane of traffic would adversely affecttraffic flow along the avenue, he said.

The city also wanted to reduce the number of lanes along FourthAvenue between 86th and 87th Streets to add an island, Fontas said,but this concerned committee members because the buses that waitthere sometimes double-park on Fourth Avenue.

You go from two lanes to one lane of traffic just because a car isdouble-parked, he stressed. Under the original DOT proposal, hesaid, That one lane is going to get cut because there’s going tobe a big island on half of it.

Nonetheless, Fontas said, The committee did like the concept of asmaller island for individuals to wait for the light, but indicatedthat it may cause a number of problems for cars turning onto theavenue.

A main impetus for the redesign was the number of accidents at theintersection — upwards of 90 between 2005 and 2009, making itnumber two in the committee’s list of intersections of concern,behind Fort Hamilton Parkway and 78th Street.

Speeding along the corridor had been noted by DOT, which contendsthat the strip between Fourth Avenue and Shore Road isunderutilized, said Fontas, adding that agency officials had toldthe committee that, The two lanes in each direction carriedsignificantly more capacity than was necessary.

Everyone is aware that Fourth and 86th is a very dangerousintersection, he concluded. They made some improvements withcountdown clocks, and we appreciate what they are trying to do andare excited to see what they come back with. I think it’s greatthat they are talking to us and working on these issues.

By press time, the DOT had not responded to a request forcomment.

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