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State promises to fix FDR Drive-Brooklyn Bridge ramp

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Possibly the worst thing about living in Brooklyn — the debilitating traffic congestion on the Brooklyn Bridge’s entrance ramp from the southbound FDR Drive — may be getting just a little bit better.

The state Department of Transportation announced this week that it will make cosmetic changes to the frustrating exit ramp from the FDR onto the fabled span — initially paint and new signage, but, eventually, a wideing of the ramp to two lanes so it can better handle the traffic.

“That’s the five-year project,” said state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights), who said he was pleased that the long-term plan will widen a ramp that sometimes backs up as far as the Manhattan Bridge, encouraging [expletive deleted] drivers to cut in at the last minute.

That ramp — which officially bears the name of Ari Halberstam, the 14-year-old Hasidic boy who was killed when a gunman opened fire on the roadway in 1994 — is “nothing short of infuriating,” Squadron added in the understatement of the year.

For now, the first-term lawmaker got a commitment from state DOT to make immediate superficial improvements, including new paint on all lane markers, making them easier to read and clearer about when the merge is approaching; two repetitions of the words “EXIT ONLY,” to discourage cutting; and replacing the current sign that reads, “Bklyn-Battery Tunnel” with a new sign that reads, “Exit 1 / Battery Pk / Staten Is Ferry.”

“It will be clearer for people and for the police to do enforcement,” Squadron said.

When reminded that catching cheaters at that entrance ramp would be as easy as handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500, Squadron pointed out that the current lane markers aren’t as clear as they could be.

“There is one point where it says ‘Do not cross solid line,’ but it’s not solid at that point,” he said. “We all know that the long-term solution is a two-lane exit — and that’s going to happen.”

There isn’t a Brooklyn driver who hasn’t been caught in traffic at that ramp, though at least one motorist said Squadron’s “powder and paint” won’t help the problem.

“When it’s a two-lane exit, fine,” said driver Jen Frayne. “But they’ve put down paint before. People still cut in, penalizing those of us who play by the rules. The only way to stop it is to put a cop on the ramp all day long.”

That said, there is some recent research that suggests that late mergers do not, in fact, slow down traffic, despite other drivers’ frustration.

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Reader Feedback

Mike from GP says:
"The worst thing about living in Brooklyn — the debilitating traffic congestion on the Brooklyn Bridge’s entrance ramp from the FDR Drive..."

Actually, the worst thing about living in Brooklyn is being Manhattan's doormat. All the drivers going across the free East River Bridges are ruining our neighborhoods and killing us because our politicians don't have the vision and guts to give us what we need -- East River bridge tolls.
Nov. 4, 2009, 8:11 am
Al from Park Slope says:
It would be great if motorists understood that if you just get in line, the traffic would move twice as fast. It's the constant "cutting the line" that causes the worst of the traffic.

And why is it that even in normal everyday driving, if you need to get in front of someone or just desire to change lanes, drivers will go totally out of their way to speed up so that you can not change your lane... Its like some kind of metaphor to them that they will not let anyone get ahead of them or something... RELAX, BE A LITTLE NICE..YOU MAY EVEN GET A THANK YOU FROM THE DRIVER YOU LET IN FOR YOUR GOOD DEED... IT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD, I PROMISE
Nov. 4, 2009, 8:14 am
JesryPo from Seaport says:
There has got to be a way to put the type of cameras that catch toll cheats to use on those who cut into the exit lane at the last minute. Make the fine $500. Send out a photo of the incident with the summons. The fines would easily pay for the installation, and hell, if the threat alone discourages these jerks, then great!
Nov. 4, 2009, 9:04 am
Mike from Ft Greene says:
"The worst thing about living in Brooklyn"?! You can't possibly be serious. Over 75% of brownstone Brooklynites don't even have a car, and can't imagine why anyone would want one. You seem to have a seriously skewed idea of how people actually get around. It isn't by driving to and from Manhattan, that's for sure.
Nov. 4, 2009, 9:16 am
tee gee from sunset park says:
they could improve the exit by merely removing most of the "memorial" signs (to the poor yeshiva student who was killed there years ago). his death is heartbreaking, but to have a half dozen or so large signs in a tenth of a mile area is an assault and confusing.
Nov. 4, 2009, 9:17 am
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
@Tee Gee - C'mon, the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp is one of the finer attributes of New York's most famous bridge! I think there are at least eight signs. You can't miss it.
Nov. 4, 2009, 9:50 am
Dave from Brooklyn says:
This will not fix anything. Widening that on-ramp will simply move the traffic congestion from the right lane of the FDR on to the wider on-ramp and the bridge itself. This is a tremendous waste of money. If you want to reduce traffic congestion on the Brooklyn Bridge, do congestion pricing or bus rapid transit or improve subway service. Get people out of their cars. Don't spend money on crap like this.
Nov. 4, 2009, 10:22 am
Boris from Bay Ridge says:
I take that ramp often. Yes it is frustrating. Yes it is infuriating. Should it be expanded? Hell no. The bridge wasn't designed for highway ramps or volumes, and never will be. The correct solution is decreasing traffic by tolling the bridge.
Nov. 4, 2009, 10:35 am
A O from BKLYN says:
What they Should do i put a concrete divider right where the "solid line" starts all the way to the bridge. This will prevent people from cutting at the last second. I might just move the congestion up some but once your in you can be smooth sailing straight to the bridge and home to Brooklyn.
Nov. 4, 2009, 10:50 am
Bubba from Fulton Ferry says:
Mike - I'd sure like to know where you got the stat about the percentage of Brownstone Brooklynites with cars from?
Nov. 4, 2009, 11:13 am
Pamela from Flatbush/Vanderveer says:
Hopefully, they will also ad a lane to the exit from Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza! Same issue...
Nov. 4, 2009, 11:15 am
Pamela from Flatbush/Vanderveer says:
Hopefully, they will also ad a lane to the exit from Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza! Same issue...Just a note to those who do not drive...There is another group of people in Brooklyn who do drive out of necessity and deserve consideration and proper treatment. Not only do we pay our fare share through car ownership, we are already sufficiently taxed through the parking ticketing process. Tolls are not the answer. I would agree with those who comment on the need for improvement of the public transit system which does not currently answer the needs of many.
Nov. 4, 2009, 11:31 am
justan idea from prospect heights says:
The 2 right lanes of the FDR should be used as exit lanes, and a "zipper" merge should be encouraged at the foot of the ramp. That way the backup would be less distance wise, and it would be more difficult to cheat. (There's already a de-facto zipper merge there due to the cheaters, so having to do that shouldn't slow things down too much.)
Nov. 4, 2009, 11:37 am
sid from boerum hill says:
Yes Daniel Squadron is good on press releases. A major reconstruction of the Brooklyn Bridge is part of the stimulus package. It includes widening the FDR exit to two lanes- and widening the exit from the Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza west(and eventually to the BQE to 2 lanes).
http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/press_0630099.html
They will maintain the Brooklyn Bound roadway during the reconstruction at all times(including reversing the Manhattan Bound roadway for some nights.)
This has all been approved

There is also a reconstruction of the Brooklyn Bridge Brooklyn Gateway in the works.

http://nyc.gov/html/dot/html/about/brooklynbr_gateway.shtml

public input on the BB Gateway by DOT is still being solicited.(maybe)
Nov. 4, 2009, 11:40 am
SGreenberg from Boerum Hill says:
"The worst thing about living in Brooklyn — the debilitating traffic congestion on the Brooklyn Bridge’s entrance ramp from the FDR Drive". Really? You can't be serious. I bet if you think for even ten seconds you might be able to think of five more serious problems.
Nov. 4, 2009, 11:48 am
Pamela from Flatbush/Vanderveer says:
...Just a note to those who do not drive...There is another group of people in Brooklyn who do drive out of necessity and deserve consideration and proper treatment. Not only do we pay our fare share through car ownership, we are already sufficiently taxed through the parking ticketing process. Tolls are not the answer. I would agree with those who comment on the need for improvement of the public transit system which does not currently answer the needs of many.
Nov. 4, 2009, 12:08 pm
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
Not likely that only 75 percent of Brownstone Brooklynites own cars. Don't know current stats, but at one time the percent of B'stoners who registered their cars out of town (at their summer house or at mommy's) was substantial.
Nov. 4, 2009, 12:54 pm
Peter from Park Slope says:
From the 2000 census:

58% of all workers in Brooklyn commuted by public transit.

22% commuted by car BY THEMSELVES
8% carpooled.

Seems like we'd all be better off if fewer people drove by themselves, and we invested more in the subway/bus infrastructure of this city.

Straphangers pay over 60% of the cost of the MTA's budget. How much do drivers (*NOT* taxpayers on the whole) pay for using the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, and 59th street bridges? zero. The only way traffic in this city will ever improve is if more people ride the subway - remember what happened during the transit strike, with Flatbush Avenue backed up to the edge of the world?

And how is this ramp expansion going to help anything? Whenever the FDR backs up with bridge traffic, it's guaranteed that the bridge itself is a mess as well.

Census notes, for the curious:
http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=n&_lang=en&qr_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U_DP3&ds_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U&geo_id=05000US36047
Nov. 4, 2009, 5:59 pm
Mike from Ft Greene says:
Bubba - between 65 and 75 percent of households in most of brownstone Brooklyn do NOT own cars. See http://capntransit.blogspot.com/2008/12/city-council-quintiles.html

(key: yellow is 65-75 percent without cars; orange is 50-65 percent without cars. In all the brownstone areas, a majority are carless.)
Nov. 4, 2009, 9:47 pm
jeremy jones from park slope says:
No one drives out of necessity. Every thing you do in is a choice. Take responsibility for yourself. If you think someone else should pay (in money, time and space) for your driving, say so. But don't try to pretend that it's not because of where you've decided to live and the live you've decided to lead.
Nov. 5, 2009, 9:14 am
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
More want to ride the subway, but have you tried to take the train lately on a weekend? Uttah disastuh.
Nov. 5, 2009, 10:35 am
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
Just took the train this weekend and it was great, just great - though it smelled kind of funny.
Forget my last comment, it was totally stoopid.
Nov. 10, 2009, 9:50 am
A O from BKLYN says:
THats bull crap... ever try to find parking in Brownston Bklyn ? you cant because everyone and their mother has two cars. To say that 75 % dont drive is unfounded what do they leave it parked all the time and are not considered drivers?
Nov. 13, 2009, 2:47 pm
mike from GP says:
A O -- parking will always be difficult to find as long as it's free or too cheap. Basic economics. Charge more for parking, and you'll be better off.
Nov. 14, 2009, 5:12 pm

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