In a neighborhood where parking spots are at a premium, the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to remove some from Union Street %u2013 all for the good of the neighborhood.
DOT officials hatched their plan, which they said would ease congestion as cars creep up to Grand Army Plaza, during last week’s Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting.
A public hearing on the proposal is expected to take place in the next few weeks.
DOT representative Ryan Russo said that their plan to bar parking on the eastbound side of Union Street between Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West from 7 a.m. to midnight except Sundays will help alleviate the continual clog of cars, SUVs and local delivery trucks that residents claim back up all the way to Seventh Avenue during peak travel times.
Russo said that Union Street’s traffic situation is unique.
It’s the only east-west block in Park Slope that leads motorists out of the neighborhood to the Grand Army Plaza circle that connects them with Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway.
At the same time it has several unique challenges. First it’s narrow, allowing only one lane of traffic to go in either direction. It’s also built on a hill, which “slows things down” as cars move east toward Prospect Park West, Russo said.
But probably the biggest challenge is its connection to Grand Army Plaza. The lights for Union Street are synched with Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway.
“The time [at Grand Army Plaza] is divided into thirds,” Russo said, explaining that motorists have less time to get through the intersection.
All three factors cause the hateful backup, although Russo said that some of the flow could be remedied if a parking lane is removed and two east-bound lanes are formed.
“We’ll be queuing twice as many cars on Union Street,” he explained. “The queue won’t go back to Eighth Avenue.”
Those in attendance at the meeting held in New York Methodist Hospital disagreed, however.
One car either parked or making a drop off on Union Street will kill the entire plan, meeting attendees said.
“It’s only a drop in the bucket,” added Union Street resident Michael Kaye said. “A much more comprehensive solution must be looked at.”
That solution, Kaye claimed, could be turning Prospect Park West into a two way street, a proposal that the Community Board shot down last year.
“Making Prospect Park West two-way would help cars leaving Park Slope go further south and east,” Kaye said, who said he’s been living with the Union Street back up for over twenty years. “It would immediately reduce traffic on Union Street.”
Committee members didn’t give much credence to Kaye’s recommendation.
Ryan said that two-way traffic on Prospect Park West wouldn’t solve the problem on Union Street and actually wreck havoc on Grand Army Plaza.
“[The new north-bound traffic] would crash into Flatbush Avenue,” he said. “It would divide the timing on Grand Army Plaza even further, giving cars on Union Street even less time to get through.”
Realizing that the subject of removing parking spots on Union Street is hotter than a Nascar engine, community board members opted to table the discussion to the upcoming public hearing.
“I like the idea, but taking away parking is tantamount to being drawn and quartered,” committee member Jerry Armer said.
©2009 Community News Group
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