Today’s news:

Calm down! Panel approves Atlantic Ave. fix despite residents’ concerns

The Brooklyn Paper

A local panel unanimously approved a city plan to calm traffic at Atlantic Avenue near the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park even though residents at Thursday’s hearing — and some Community Board 6 members — said it doesn’t make the area safe enough for pedestrians.

“This is not anywhere near a final solution,” said board member Jerry Armer. “I strongly urge the Department of Transportation to go back to the drawing board.”

Still, nine members of the board’s transportation committee voted unanimously to push the plan through in hopes of protecting pedestrians heading to the park via Atlantic Avenue or Columbia Street — who have to cross entrances to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, busy Furman Street and a beer distributor’s driveway — even though it admitted it would like to see substantial changes to the plan.

Residents speaking at the hearing also demanded several revisions and changes. Among them were to:

•Keep the B63 bus and tour buses out of the park roadways. The city wants to reroute the B63 bus through park streets, instead of its current U-turn at the base of Atlantic Avenue. The new route loops around One Brooklyn Bridge Park — the condo within the park’s footprint — and past an area with a dog run and playground.

“Tour buses coming through the park at all hours of the day would now be in contest with city buses,” said Douglas Eisenstein, who lives in One Brooklyn Bridge Park. “This turnaround is more dangerous.”

• Ban a “right turn on red” on the Atlantic Avenue on-ramp to the BQE. Transportation officials planned for a bolder “no right turn on red” sign at the north side of Atlantic Avenue, though there is an exception: drivers can turn right from 7 am to 10 am on Monday through Friday.

“When it’s red, it should be red — even if it means people have to wait longer to get through,” said Roy Sloane, president of the Cobble Hill Association, “We’re not going to sacrifice community members just so cars can get to the BQE faster.”

• Create lights on Columbia Street near Congress Street, so people can safely cross to the west side of Columbia Street, which will soon have a two-way bike path and sidewalk.

• Permanently close the entrance to Pier 7 on the south side of Atlantic Avenue. The city’s plans for a pedestrian plaza is too close to the fence lining the pier, where trucks often emerge from the beverage distributor.

The Department of Transportation’s project manager Ted Wright, who explained the plan to residents at the meeting, defended the plan during the hearing, but refused to comment to us on neighbors’ concerns afterward.

The city’s reconstruction of Atlantic Avenue will break ground in late August, according to Wright, reducing traffic lanes to create expanded sidewalks and a new two-way bike path that stretches from Columbia Street to the park.

Locals have clamored for a traffic fix to the area since the park opened last summer and attracted hordes to the park — who now cross treacherous intersections to reach the waterfront getaway.

And some residents think the pedestrians can only be saved from the high-traffic area if they can literally travel above it.

They could build a fly-over,” said Judi Francis, of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, a park watchdog group. “This is baby steps to make this a safe entrance. What we’re missing is how to get as many people as possible into this grand park.”

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Frank from Furter says:
Besides the fact that a fly over would cost millions, people would still use the street.
Closing the entrance isn't an option either as it would reroute trucks and cars through Brooklyn Heights....

There is no easy solution. having no right turn on red during the rush hour will have a significant traffic problem for Atlantic Avenue as well.

The solution is adding a right turn on arrow light that would be timed controlled...
i.e. right turns on green light or green arrow only! and having a walk-don't walk sign that only allows crossing when the light is red completely....but that means that the pedestrians will need to obey the lights too!
July 8, 2011, 10:33 am
adamben from bedstuy says:
just make a tunnel where columbia meets atlantic and also have a lane, in the tunnel connect to the bqe. then you'll have some more greenway and safeguard who knows how many pedestrians from getting hit/killed. oh, unless money is more important than lives (insert eye rolling -about here-).
July 8, 2011, 10:41 am
Paco from Cobble Hill says:
This summary is slightly off. It makes it sound like the CB vote didn't address the room's many comments when in reality... the amendments to the official Recommendation were that this DOT treatment is just a first step and that more will be studied and done afterward to improve safety. As everyone agreed, it's a death trap right now, with so much asphalt for cars, and no amenities for peds/cyclists. Judi's comments about the flyover, though bold and costly, were very well made in pointing out how lackluster this plan currently is.
July 8, 2011, 1:28 pm
Tony from Cobble Hill says:
There is already a 'RIGHT ON RED PERMITTED M-F 7AM to 10AM' at the BQE Entrance at Atlantic Ave.
A Right RED ARROW Should be installed towards the entrance ramp because many drivers ignore the sign. Go stand there during the afternoon. Drivers STILL Pass the red light at all hours of the day.
July 8, 2011, 8:23 pm
Anon from Brooklyn Heights says:
Yes, and Judi Francis also pointed out that almost $5 million is being spent on a bridge at the north end of the park that will bring hotel guests to Brooklyn Heights. Aren't the tens of thousands of Brooklynites who try to enter the park at the south end worth that much to get to THEIR park safely? Put $5 million into a fly over at the south end! Since when did we decide to build this park for tourists and provide safe passage for them but not for residents in Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill? Don't residents deserve the same level of safe passage to the park as tourists do? This park is planned so pathetically and the Mayor continue to ignore the hard working residents that have worked so long and hard for a park. A sham.
July 11, 2011, 9:37 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
That's Bloomberg for you! According to him daily residents of the low and middle income are always at the bottom, while his rich buddies and tourists are always at the top. I wonder how many now think that Thompson wasn't such a bad choice for mayor? However, I still think that there are ways to make it better for pedestrian access without making it innconvient for vehicular traffic, and that can start with fixing the timing of the crosswalks and traffic lights, while bicycles should be recquired to follow the traffic laws rather than going against them.
July 11, 2011, 2:33 pm
Mike says:
You can count on Tal to autistically spew his uninformed "just retime the crosswalks!" nonsense on any thread that even remotely mentions a welcome DOT street redesign. The mystery is what took him so long!
July 12, 2011, 9:35 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
You can count on Mike to make personal attacks on anyone who doesn't see the world through his eyes as well as get very defensive on it.
July 12, 2011, 5:45 pm

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