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A new entrance at the Fourth Avenue subway station in Park Slope might not only improve safety at this harried intersection, it could help enliven an otherwise moribund street scene, according to a local civic group.
With that in mind, the Park Slope Civic Council is urging the Metropolitan Transportation Authority-NYC Transit to add an entrance on the east side of the avenue, between Ninth and Tenth streets.
Michael Cairl, a trustee and chair of the civic’s Livable Streets Committee, said a new entrance will improve pedestrian safety, “reducing the number of conflicts between cars and pedestrians” on Fourth Avenue.
Presently, there is only one entrance to the subway station, on the west side of the avenue. To enter the station, those on the east side must brave the roadway, which is a designated truck route.
“This way, they wouldn’t have to,” Cairl said.
At one time, an entrance on the east side did exist, but has since been sealed up, he noted.
Cairl, a consultant on mass transit projects, said the civic group will soon send the MTA a letter requesting the new entrance.
The group would also like to see the creation of retail space underneath the viaduct on the east and west sides of Fourth Avenue—a potential revenue generator for the MTA.
Improved lighting and security under the viaduct and in the passageways in the Fourth Avenue subway station, as well as “artistic treatment” of the walls underneath the viaduct, is also being requested.
“We want them to look at what might be feasible at a modest cost,” Cairl said, adding the civic’s recommendations would be a fraction of the millions the agency might one day spend on the station’s renovations.
A rehabilitation of the Fourth Avenue station was considered, but not yet included in the MTA’s capital plan.
At press time, MTA-New York City Transit did not return a call and an e-mail for comment.
“The sooner we implement it, the better,” Cairl said.
Ken Freeman, the president of the Park Slope Civic, said the new entrance would help eliminate the need for people to cross the street, from east to west to enter the station. “It’s a busy intersection,” he said.
He said a new entrance works “on a number of levels,” the most overarching of which is improving a streetscape that has yet to meet the potential that the neighborhood as a whole has realized over the past decade.
The streets outside the station are also gaining attention.
Next month, Transportation Alternatives, a not for profit advocacy group, will announce the winners of a design competition that asked participants to develop an “alternative hierarchy” for the intersection, where pedestrians are at the top of the food chain, and all modes of transportation are taken into account.
The competition will illuminate what the street could look like “if we were to be adventurous and creative about it,” Shinpei Tsay, the group’s deputy director.
And the only way to go is up. As it stands now, Tsay said, “you can’t get much worse there.”
She said the intersection suffers from an erosion of space. “It is not pedestrian friendly,” Tsay said. “Given all the uses, it is clear that the priority is private cars.”
She said the hope is for the competition to help expand the city’s Department of Transportation’s “toolbox of design standards.”
“This is to show people that the possibilities are endless,” Tsay added.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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