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Lookout, lady! Van Brunt is hard to cross

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Red Hookers are in for a dangerous summer, as the city has said it will not re-paint faded crosswalks on busy Van Brunt street until the fall.

The Department of Transportation recently re-painted the double-yellow markers in the center of the neighborhood’s main street, but workers failed to slather a fresh coat of bone-white paint on faded crosswalks, and is refusing local demands to re-paint paved-over crosswalks along the 15-block stretch.

The only crosswalks that span the increasingly busy Van Brunt Street are at Sullivan, Wolcott and Bowne streets. That leaves about a half-mile stretch with absolutely no crosswalks, that familiar cross-hatching pattern that alerts drivers that pedestrians are likely to be present.

That’s an issue for longtime resident Florence Neal, who said traffic has gotten worse as the neighborhood’s fortunes have improved with the arrival of more residents, and businesses such as IKEA, Fairway and the cruise ship terminal.

“We never had this much traffic,” she said.

Resident Michael Kowalski, Neal’s husband, said he will continue to experience a long day’s journey into fright just to cross the street.

“It can take four minutes to cross Van Brunt Street in the middle of the afternoon,” he said. “Traffic here is horrendous and very dangerous.”

At the very least, more crosswalks would be a step in the right direction, insisted resident Ben Schneider, owner of The Good Fork restaurant.

“If we had crosswalks, it might actually signal to drivers that there are people who want to cross,” he said. “Even the biggest jerk in the world doesn’t want to kill anybody when they’re driving.”

Back in 2006, Transportation Department workers were dispatched to repaint Van Brunt Street’s crosswalks on the same day that a woman died of her injuries after being fatally struck by a minivan at Wolcott Street. At the time, the officials said the markings simply needed to refurbished every couple of years.

According to the agency, the Van Brunt Street corridor averaged six reportable accidents per year for the past five years.

Still, residents refuse to be patient.

“It’s criminal that people have to get killed to get something done,” Neal said.

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