DOT presents Fourth Avenue redesign plans

March 28, 2013 Denise Romano
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If the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has its way, Fourth Avenue between Ovington Avenue and 84th Street would be reduced to a single lane of moving traffic in each direction.

It is in within that portion of the thoroughfare that student Matthew Garry was seriously injured at 78th Street when he was struck by a speeding vehicle that kept on going on February 16 of this year, just a block away from where dentist Harry Lewner was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2009.

The proposal to reduce the number of moving lanes of traffic is one facet of pedestrian safety redesign plans for the strip developed using feedback previously gleaned from residents. They were presented by DOT at the Fourth Avenue Safety Visioning workshop held in P.S. 264’s cafeteria on Thursday, March 21, the latest get-together in a series that aims to redefine the corridor and make it safer for pedestrians, “from Atlantic Avenue to the Atlantic Ocean.”

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The Sunset Park portion, between the Prospect Expressway and 65th Street, already has redesign plans in place. Right now, Bay Ridge and Park Slope are hashing out their corridors, which are Atlantic Avenue to the Prospect Expressway and 65th Street to Shore Road, respectively.

The “top issues“ along the strip in Bay Ridge, according to feedback, are speeding, congestion, pedestrian safety, safer crossings, double parking and beautification. Also included are bus congestion, illegal U-turns, car dealerships, school drop-offs, truck loading, fast turns, left turns, bike safety, jaywalking, curb cuts, weaving and crossing time.

Besides proposing the lane reduction to fix the proliferating speeding problem, DOT suggested a

pedestrian safety island for 86th Street, since the area is heavily trafficked by buses and shoppers.

To combat double parking and congestion, DOT proposes adding daytime loading zones, a parking stripe and high-visibility crosswalks between 84th and 101st Streets.

To fix the skewed, wide crossings at Bay Ridge Parkway, DOT proposes a sidewalk extension with no loss of parking spaces, a wide parking stripe and left turn bays.

Maureen Landers, co-founder of Bay Ridge Advocates for Keeping Everybody Safe, said she was “really optimistic” about the plans DOT presented.

“They have been acting with the utmost professionalism, providing data and options. I have just been impressed with the whole procedure,” she said. “They are giving the community a lot of opportunities to provide feedback. It’s encouraging.”

Landers, who is a parent, added that there is an “outcry” from the community regarding reckless driving. “They feel like they can’t cross the street,” she said. “There is data that shows that there is a tremendous amount of speeding along Fourth Avenue. I hope that everyone can have an intelligent conversation and not get too emotional.”

Brian Kieran, chair of Community Board 10’s Traffic and Transportation committee said that he feels as if DOT is concentrating on reducing lanes of traffic, adding that his opinion does not necessarily represent that of the committee.

“I understand that there are limitations on what DOT can do, but I don’t see it being that helpful,” he said, noting that when lanes were reduced in CB 7’s portion of the corridor, Sunset Park, it caused even more issues. “I do believe painting more and better striping and lane markings would be helpful. Raised reflective dots on the lanes will keep people in lanes and are more visible at night. [I would also] increase lighting and make [traffic signal] sequencing better. The balance is not there for pedestrians or non-drivers.”

Kieran told this paper that the main issue on Fourth Avenue is speeding and that speed cameras could be the antidote to the problem. “It’s worth trying something like this that has a track record,” he said. “The technology is already there; we just have to pass the legislation.”

Allen Bortnick, a CB 10 member, told this paper that the DOT is “hell bent” on making things harder for drivers. “They don’t know what they are doing. They want to turn Fourth Avenue into a one lane street. My problem with them [DOT] is that they have no foresight and no thought,” he explained.

“There is no such thing as safety, it does not exist. It is used as a fear word because someone got hurt,” Bortnick contended. “Nobody is willing to face the issue and admit it. You cannot calm traffic.”

DOT representatives are still accepting feedback from Ridgeites. Residents can log onto and give any comments. DOT will look at the responses and present Community Board 10 with more formal recommendations before the June general meeting.

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