Red Hook rethinking the big tourist push

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Be careful what you wish for. Red Hook certainly is.

The hardscrabble neighborhood, which has long courted visitors, now finds its streets flooded with Fairway-bound foodies.

On Van Brunt Street this week, one car bumped into a pedestrian and another collided with a truck, symbols of the growing congestion in neighborhood that suddenly finds itself “hot,” according to Time Out New York, and a destination for car-driving tourists.

No injuries occurred in the accidents — except for a few frayed nerves.

“I was already too scared to let my kids walk alone to school, and that was before I saw that ambulance,” said Judy Rodriguez, who saw the pedestrian bump-up on Monday.

The accidents happened on an increasingly harried patch of Van Brunt Street, where cars gunning for the new Fairway compete with trucks turning out of an industrial park and children crossing the street to PS 15 at the corner of Sullivan Street.

“It’s a nightmare,” said a crossing guard at PS 15, four blocks from the new grocer.

“Now with Fairway and the school buses, the city buses, all the trucks and double-parked cars, you got a huge mess every morning.

“And it’s getting worse.”

For starters, residents want a traffic light.

“With all the new traffic, we need a light by the school,” said resident Carolina Salguero, blames the new a-list grocer.

“I don’t know what’s in those tomatoes, but it’s making drivers crazy,” she said, adding that she was so miffed at the new horde of over-excited drivers that she followed one car all the way to Fairway so she could confront the driver.

“Not only was he driving too fast, but he was already eating before he even got there,” she griped.

On the northern end of Van Brunt Street, the Department of Transportation has installed the strip’s only traffic light — next to the city’s new cruise ship terminal.

Residents say the light should have been installed in the neighborhood’s growing center, close to the school.

Fairway and the new cruise ship terminal anchor the city’s revival plan for the neighborhood, but residents worry that without adequate improvements, the plan will sink.

“More importantly are the issues of safety here and now,” said John McGettrick, president of the Red Hook Civil Association.

Fairway has said it is working with community residents about easing traffic. And DOT Commissioner Iris Weinstall said the agency will study the traffic flow this fall.

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