If it ain’t broke, the city’s Department of Transportation might just fix it.
Local residents and elected officials are scratching their heads following the DOT’s recent traffic calming measures instituted along Gerritsen Avenue between Nostrand Avenue and Avenue W.
In particular, residents are perplexed by the DOT’s recent placement of a pedestrian refuge island and a left turn lane at the Avenue U/ Gerritsen Avenue intersection and the narrowing of lanes along Gerritsen Avenue.
“This is not traffic calming,” said Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo, whose office has been flooded with calls about the DOT’s handiwork. “It took four traffic lights on Knapp Street yesterday to cross onto Gerritsen Avenue. You don’t narrow traffic, you try to move it.”
Scavo said the Gerritsen Avenue fix began in July when she received a call from DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri to meet with her and the CB 15 Transportation Committee about changes to the thoroughfare.
After setting the meeting up, Scavo extended the invitation to all the elected officials in the area, all of whom either attended the meeting or sent a representative.
At the meeting, community residents and the local electeds expressed displeasure with the DOT’s massive ideas for calming the roadway.
Among the issues raised were that narrowing the roadway from two-lanes in either directions to one lane could become hazardous for fire trucks responding to emergencies at the 2165 Gerritsen Avenue firehouse.
Palmieri responded with a letter to officials on Oct. 30 that everything but the planned bike lanes would be instituted.
This included narrowing the roadway by 11 feet, installing the pedestrian refuge island eliminating one left turn and installing left turn bays on the west leg of Gerritsen Avenue and southbound Avenue Uto separate the left turns from the through traffic.
Local residents criticized the new traffic patterns at last week’s Marine Park Civic Association meeting.
“This is a traffic nightmare,” said Maureen Farrell. “I don’t understand why they’re doing this.”
“I saw someone get hit today at Avenue W and Knapp Street. The person was so frustrated with traffic on Gerritsen Avenue that he veered off,” said State Senator Marty Golden rep Anthony Testaverde.
Such frustration will lead to “speeding cars throughout our neighborhood,” he said.
Golden’s office has sent a letter to DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri detailing the community’s problems with the traffic changes.
“A Lieutenant from Engine Company 321 at 2165 Gerritsen Avenue has expressed concern about their need to leave the fire house and travel southbound on Gerritsen Avenue,” the letter states. “Their need to leave the house as well as to turn eastbound onto Avenue U feels compromised by these new traffic calming plans, as they believe that there will no longer be space for the cars to move out of the way in an emergency.”
“We have been contacted by the manager at Key Food, 2245 Gerritsen Avenue,” the letter continues. “Cars travelling southbound on Gerritsen will no longer be able to turn into the Key food parking lot. In these hard economic times, they have asked that the Department of Transportation consider making a turning lane into the parking lot for the southbound cars. The Key Food as well as the other small businesses in the shopping center would then not be negatively affected by the new traffic pattern.”
A DOT source said on background that City Council member Lew Fidler had asked the agency to look into safety improvements in the vicinity of Gerritsen Avenue and Avenue U.
“In addition, our studies found drivers regularly speeding through the area at 40 to 50 miles per hour,” the source said.
Fidler said he would like the entire traffic calming measures reviewed.
“There’s got to be some measure that considers the community’s input and expertise of traffic engineers at the same time,” he said.
©2009 Community News Group
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