Red Hook

Op-Ed: Long-time industrialist responds to Red Hook truck problem

December 13, 2023 John Quadrozzi Jr.
John Quadrozzi, Jr.
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(Editor’s note: Red Hook industrialist John Quadrozzi Jr., owner of the Gowanus Bay Terminal ~ (GBX), comments on the NYC Department of Transportation’s Red Hook Traffic and Truck Study as reported by the Brooklyn Eagle in the article, “Red Hook is overrun with trucks and delivery vans, residents say.”)

While one can appreciate the difficulty navigating the west corridor of Red Hook, it has always been a very active/congested area, mainly with Van Brunt Street being the single, narrow corridor there, lending itself to erratic slow-downs for trucks to safely pass one another, and with tight side streets making it difficult for trucks to turn and forcing them to swing into oncoming traffic. Also, the addition of numerous traffic lights when before there were none, has amplified the slow-down. 

Years back there was the logically-floated plan to utilize Richard Street, a somewhat underutilized dead-zone, as a Monday-Saturday truck route by day (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.), which would not only relieve congestion on Van Brunt Street, but be a direct relief for traffic generated from Beard Street. The plan included the removal of day parking at both the northeast and southeast ends to maintain wide-lane alignment consistent with effective and safe truck movements. However, the north end mysteriously changed to a one-way without comprehensive review or proper public input and there it ended — not to say it can’t be revisited as traffic on Van Brunt worsens. 

Mind you, South Red Hook as some call it, between Columbia to Smith streets, isn’t challenged much by the increasing volume as the streets are wide and have mostly direct/easy access to Hamilton Avenue, with little to no commercial stores and the like creating foot traffic and parking slow-downs. However, the one exception to this is BASIS School, a zoning blunder which had much public opposition at the time, which was put smack in the middle of an intact M-Zone without any accommodation for vehicle maneuvering/parking within their site, at what’s become a bottleneck at Columbia and Bay streets. Here there is illegal double parking by buses and parents waiting and picking up/dropping off kids, and the school’s private crossing guards completely stopping traffic in opposition of traffic control signals. I find it frustrating that the BASIS School, which sought special permission to be sited in this M-Zone and is now the cause of the problem, is seeking relief from the problem.

Nonetheless, there are always solutions if the community and city are willing to make changes/investments for the changing landscapes, like activating Richard Street. Years back there was the logically-floated plan to make Halleck Street a southerly route bridging the gap between Beard Street through Smith Street, making a functional and complete southerly route. While it would cross one of the fields of Red Hook Park, it would remove the illegal dirt/waste obstruction and decadeslong blight ignored by DOT and Sanitation on Halleck Street between Clinton and Court streets, while freeing up Bay Street. Currently a truck route through the heart of Red Hook Park, it could be removed from the truck route network and potentially even closed for increased park environs/uses. This section of street through Red Hook Park is huge and could be a phase II enhancement to the park renovation activity happening, while allowing community stakeholders to shape its future. 

On a simple note, regular enforcement with ticketing and towing of illegal overnight parking of trucks, buses and motor homes would improve the environment overall. As they have been allowed to illegally park overnight, they mostly stay all day, weekends/holidays, and never leave — they deposit garbage and have oil leaking into the streets and storm drains, they restrict corner turns and visibility, while creating a dark and ugly appearance in the neighborhood.

Red Hook industrialist John Quadrozzi Jr., owner of the Gowanus Bay Terminal ~ (GBX), has sat on various business boards and the CB6 Economic Waterfront Development and Transportation committees. He oversaw planning of a truck route designed to minimize impact on the residential corridor while maximizing truck and bus access to vital routes; worked on the Columbia Street/Degraw Street Truck Route Diverter Reconstruction Task Force; came up with the idea for the Hamilton Avenue turning lanes under the BQE; and other street design projects including speed bumps and additional lighting on Columbia Street. He takes a strong interest in sustainability, contributes to numerous local arts, sports, educational and environmental efforts, and is the recipient of several community service awards.

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