DOT to warn truckers of low clearance on 86 Street

February 10, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The clearance beneath the subway el is as low as 12 and a half feet in some spots. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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In the wake of numerous traffic tie-ups on 86th Street in Bensonhurst caused by trucks getting stuck under the elevated tracks of the D subway line, the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is set to install additional signs to warn truckers of the low clearance under the el.

The signage is scheduled to be installed at various points along 86th Street between 18th Avenue and Stillwell Avenue.

The new signs, which will be placed at 12 feet high, will alert truck drivers of low clearance of 12 1/2 feet at some portions of the elevated train track, officials said.

There are signs at some intersections along 86th Street, but many truckers either don’t see the signs or ignore them. The trucks get stuck underneath the el and the results are massive traffic jams when drivers of other vehicles can’t maneuver around the big rigs, local officials said.

The new signage was requested by Councilmember Mark Treyger and Assemblymember William Colton. The two lawmakers wrote a letter to Brooklyn Transportation Commissioner Keith Bray in August. In their letter, Treyger and Colton cited numerous incidents in which tractor trailers got stuck under the subway tracks, resulting in traffic jams and lengthy delays for drivers.

They also claimed that the situation presents a danger to pedestrians crossing at intersections along 86th Street, a main shopping thoroughfare in Bensonhurst.

“As one of the central commercial corridors in our community, 86th Street is a heavily trafficked roadway. Drivers should not have to sit in traffic for hours waiting for trucks to be dislodged from the subway overpass, and pedestrians should not have to be fearful of crossing the street,” Treyger said. “The hope is that clear, visible warning signs will spur truck drivers to think twice about chancing the drive under the subway tracks.”

Treyger and Colton, who also requested that the DOT re-measure the clearance, said the current signage fails to account for numerous repaving efforts on 86th Street, which shortened the distance between the street and the el.

In addition, the lawmakers highlighted their concerns that repeated collisions adversely affect the structural integrity of the el.

Bray responded to the letter with a letter of his own to Treyger and Colton, in which he noted that DOT’s Brooklyn engineering office completed a field investigation involving land use and traffic conditions.

“We are glad that the DOT was able to process this request,” Colton said. “Once we were alerted about the dangerous situations by neighborhood residents, we immediately acted to make sure proper signage helps to prevent further incidents. This will help protect all the pedestrians, drivers, and help prevent delays on public transportation along the busy 86th Street.”

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