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City’s Eastern Parkway fix includes signals, medians and a bike lane

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Eastern Parkway would be transformed from a menacing speedway into a pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly strip under a new city plan that will begin construction next month.

The long-awaited reconstruction of the half-mile stretch from Grand Army Plaza to the Brooklyn Museum in Prospect Heights — including the terrifying intersection where four-lane Washington Avenue meets five-lane Eastern Parkway — will add crosswalks, traffic signals and a new westbound bike path on the median between the parkway and its service road.

The $6-million project will also update sewers and water mains.

Residents have long hated this Washington Avenue intersection, where there is an average of two pedestrian injuries each year.

“There was a huge accident just this morning,” said Christine Scanlon, who lives on this corner across from the Brooklyn Museum. “An SUV jumped the curb on Washington and the front fender smashed a window in our building!”

The crash included two other cars colliding in the intersection, which catapulted the SUV into the fancy apartment building. A bent public telephone is a lingering relic of the violent smash-up.

Residents began lobbying for improvements in 2000, and the city has been promising a redesign for years.

The main problems are the lack of a pedestrian signal opposite the museum and the stream of cars zooming along the Eastern Parkway service road. Adding to the chaos are cars making illegal U-turns on Eastern Parkway and pedestrians ignoring crosswalks in a rush to get to the Eastern Parkway subway station.

“In the morning, people walk across the service road to the subway, and they never know if a car will jet from Eastern Parkway or the service road,” said Chris Siudzinski, who lives on Washington Avenue across from the Brooklyn Museum.

The plan will widen the median in front of the Brooklyn Museum farther into the intersection so pedestrians crossing Washington Avenue can use the strip as a refuge.

The plan will also extend the current web of crosswalks to include one for bikes crossing Washington Avenue on the new one-way westbound bike lane, which will link Eastern Parkway to existing bike lanes in Grand Army Plaza and Prospect Park West. The plan also includes new traffic signals, although the city did not specify the locations.

The city expects construction to be completed in 2012 — but, after a decade of inaction, some residents are saying they’ll believe it when they see it.

“The city says it will fix it, but it never does,” said Sherice Smith, 20, of Prospect Heights.

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Reader Feedback

Resident from PPW says:
If the repairs are under the auspices of the DOT, the article should have clarified the construction timeline. Commissioner Sadik-Khan will make sure that the bike lane will be completed in less than a week (I thought I saw her out there this morning with a shovel and paint!), the rest of the repairs in time for the next mayoral election.
March 24, 2011, 5:06 am
Mike says:
The bike path on the median was supposed to be bidirectional, not one-way westbound. I assume this is just really sloppy reporting and that the plans haven't changed?
March 24, 2011, 9:58 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
Hey "Resident," are you and your crew going to sue to stop these safety improvements, too?
March 24, 2011, 10:13 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
Bikelane would be good. Flatbush and Atlantic also need bikelanes (and much stronger enforcement against double-parkers in the bikelane...hey, maybe the police will let bicyclists use tazers on folks that double-park in bikelanes?)
March 24, 2011, 10:37 am
D from Crown Heights says:
PPW Resident,

It's actually under the auspices of the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), so sadly we cannot kvetch up some more stories about Sadik-Khan.
March 24, 2011, 12:11 pm
LOLcat from Park Slope says:
@Joey,

Anyone who rides their bike on atlantic or flatbush is an idiot. These arteries are the last streets anyone should ever attempt to put a bike lane on.

Eastern Parkway between GAP and Washington is in dire need of a bike lane, and with so much available space, should be easy to implement (either on the service road or the sidewalk island)
March 24, 2011, 5:14 pm
joebkny from midwood says:
another bike lane post :) where is tal at?
March 24, 2011, 8:44 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What do they mean by speedway for the Eastern Parkway? I have used it numerous times in the past, and never saw it as such. I think that this is nothing by another hyperbole that bicycle advocate groups have used to get their way as usual. I would rather just have the signals be fixed because they wouldn't cost much and wouldn't give an innconvience to anyone. Keep in mind that the Eastern Parkway is seen as a major thoroughfare, so taking away lanes can actually make traffic there worse rather than better. As for the pictures being shown, they can always be worth a thousand words, because not everyone drives like a maniac as some always stereotype them to be.
March 24, 2011, 9:31 pm
Mike says:
Tal is being ignorant. No lanes are being taken away. This project will connect the existing bike path on Eastern Parkway east of Washington to Prospect Park and the Plaza Street bike lanes, fixing one of the most notorious gaps in the bike network. And there are other severe safety problems that are being fixed as part of this work (e.g. some very long crosswalks at Eastern and Washington have no pedestrian signals -- apparently you're just supposed to run and pray. They're being installed when the median is extended.)

This is not a controversial project. I haven't heard of anyone who actually lives in Brooklyn who opposes it: there's nothing to oppose.
March 24, 2011, 9:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasnatville, NY says:
Either way, why does it have to cost six million dollars when there are better things it can be used for such as helping the schools from closing and keep their teachers? BTW, cut the personal attacks, Mike. You wouldn't like it when someone calls you that. How is it there is always money for these, but hardly any to help where it's really needed especially when their are a number of schools, firehouses, and even senior centers that can't stay open due to lack of funding?
March 24, 2011, 10:37 pm
Mike says:
Tal, look in the dictionary. Not bothering to check out the details of a project, but assuming (and stating) the worst about it, is ignorance.

As for the cost, the street needs rebuilding. They're redoing the water and sewer lines at the same time. That's how much these things cost.

I bet if there were a project *you* supported, like one to put in more lanes for cars or a new highway, you wouldn't be talking about its cost in terms of firehouses and such.
March 24, 2011, 11:32 pm
C from Crown Heights says:
As someone who lives right by this intersection, I'm thrilled that they're finally doing something about it.

It really is terrifying to cross Washington along the south side access road of Eastern Parkway, either on foot or by bike, because you have no signal guidance on what the cars from Eastern Parkway are doing. I've crossed this road many times when Washington Ave. has the red, only to be nearly struck down by a car turning from one of the Eastern Parkway central lanes.

Finally, speeding on Eastern Parkway is seriously out of control, with drivers treating it like a highway rather than a city road where the 25-mph limit applies. I would love to see speed cameras and/or greater enforcement!
March 25, 2011, 9:24 am
S from PPW says:
The plan for Eastern Parkway goes back 10 years, before Sadik-Khan was at DOT. In fact, PPW bike lane opponent Iris Weinshall was in charge when it was first proposed.
March 25, 2011, 9:30 am
M from Prospect Heights says:
It's about time that something is done here. Just a couple weeks ago I was walking to the subway on Washington Avenue when there was a huge SUV that had crashed into the building on the corner of Eastern Parkway and Washington! Speeding on Eastern Parkway is out of control and you always have to take your life into your hands crossing Washington as cars making a right or left turn from Eastern Parkway come flying around the corner.
March 25, 2011, 9:37 am
Gary from Park Slope says:
Long time coming. I presume the bike path will be two-way like the rest of the Eastern Parkway bike path. It makes no sense for it to be one-way.
March 25, 2011, 9:42 am
George from Prospect Heights says:
I was also a witness to the accident that is referenced in the article. It was scary for drivers and pedestrians - two people walking up Washington were very nearly struck by the SUV. The intersection at Eastern Pkwy and Washington is very dangerous. This is not a bike lane issue but a safety issue and I don't think personal bias against bikers should cloud anyone's thinking. I don't even own a bicycle and I am tremendously in favor of the changes they are planning.

Many families and people with children enjoy visiting the museum and fountains throughout the year. It is scary to watch parents with strollers or toddlers try to navigate this intersection as you never know from what direction a car will be coming.
March 25, 2011, 10:19 am
Steve from PPW says:
"The $6-million project will also update sewers and water mains."

That's the money right there. There's a lot of development along Eastern Parkway and the infrastructure needs to be updated to accommodate it.

Please stop blaming bike lanes and crosswalks, which are not expensive, for eating up budget money. The city simply has to spend money to maintain sewers and water mains.
March 25, 2011, 10:57 am
Actual Brooklynite from Brooklyn says:
About time. Community members and local institutions have been diligently working to get this job done for 11 years now. It's unbelievable how long it takes to get the Dept. of Design and Construction to get a job done.

PPW Resident: You're an idiot.

Tal: You're not even worth responding to.

There is absolutely nothing controversial about this project except for how long it has taken for the City to get around to making basic and fundamental safety improvements.
March 25, 2011, 11:15 am
Judy from Prospect Heights says:
I live on Eastern Parkway between Underhill & Washington and think it's a real shame that is was necessary to cut down 5-6 trees on the median to make this work.
March 25, 2011, 4:27 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
If pedestrians and cyclists didn't flout the laws, there would be no need for this. Just stop with the jaywalking, and there will be no need to worry about getting hit. Cyclists need to stop riding through lights and learn that disobeying them does put them into harm's way. Keep in mind that most drivers do follow the traffic laws, and I find it an irony that pedestrians and cyclists despite claiming how much they want others to. Some streets wouldn't regaurded as "Boulevards of Death" if some just went accordingly with the signals like on Queens Boulevard. The main reason I have been against connecting bike lanes is because they aren't used much, and there are many comments in the City Room who are witnesses to prove that. If they were used constantly like the streets were, then maybe I would support them, but that's hardly the case.
March 25, 2011, 6:03 pm
Mike says:
Bully car drivers to pedestrians and cyclists: "Stop hitting yourself!"
March 25, 2011, 8:16 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
$6 million, who knows how much in studies beforehand, and only a decade to build. NYC is getting better.
March 26, 2011, 3:03 am
Sally from PPW says:
Who is this Tal Barzilai who comments on everything? He sounds like a total idiot! Comments in the City Room blog "prove" something? Why rely on scientific studies when you could just read a few blogs!

The improvements to Eastern Parkway are long overdue. Too bad some people have to find the bad in everything.
March 26, 2011, 10:30 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First off, calling someone an idiot for disagreeing is not professional where I come from. If six million dollars must be spent, it should be on something that is used frequently rather than seldomly. Unfortunately, most of the bike lanes are used seldomly according to large scales. If you look at the US Census Bureau, less than one percent commute by bicycle, so that's a small number. Also, if this was on something that was used more frequently, then I would support the amount used, and that's why I bring schools, firehouses, hospitals, and other public places when they are in dire need of funding but Bloomberg keeps snubbing them. Many stats do have a history of fudging data, but if anyone can disprove that, I would love to see the evidence rather than resorting to name calling. As a nerdy leftist, I don't believe in taking cheap shots at the other, because it is a path of the weak and cowardly.
March 26, 2011, 9:24 pm
David from Manhattan says:
Sewers and water mains are used frequently. Those are the things that cost the most and are the reason the project costfs $6,000,000. I've seen the budget and the bike and ped improvements barely amount to $500,000 out of the $6,000,000.

The sewers and water mains are attached to apartments, schools, hospitals, firehouses, and other public places and must be updated if they are to keep functioning. This project has been needed for over 10 years.

Tal, I won't say you're an idiot, but your narrow focus on bike lanes and seeming lack of understanding about the larger project is curious. You could seek to understand the big picture and ask questions but you do not - you just make statements without knowledge.
March 27, 2011, 10:21 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
David, I don't have issues with people who choose to disagree with me, it's those that attack me, that I am against. The reason why I have constantly called out the bicycle network both here and on the NY Times is because they aren't used as much as the streets are for vehicular traffic. I am not against fixing the sewers, because we all know that this is needed, and sewage and water is essential. The only thing that bothers me about the bicycle infrastructure is that it's always being seen as outweighing issues that are much more important, and Bloomberg always give that the first priority. Keep in mind when it came to plowing streets, the bike lanes were before the actually streets in numerous areas. The only way I will support more for the bike network will be if more cyclists will follow the rules of the road and agree to licensing and registration, which many bike zealouts tend to oppose. Also, enough with the jaywalking, because that is also going into harm's way especially on a major thoroughfare, and that was the cause of the most of the deaths on Queens Boulevard hence that nickname. I don't know why it's hard for the non-motorists to follow simple laws, which can help them avoid the deaths in the first places.
March 27, 2011, 1:35 pm
Mike says:
The problem here is that people are trying to argue with Tal as if he were rational.
March 27, 2011, 9:48 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
More cars! Pedestrians need to learn to love getting hit by them.
March 28, 2011, 9:08 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

Do you think giving bike riders a place to commute without having to "flout the law" is a good idea?
March 30, 2011, 7:24 am
Kevin from Flatbush says:
Thankfully, people from Pleasantville don't get to have any say in how Eastern Parkway or any other Brooklyn street gets built.
June 21, 2011, 4:42 pm

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