The traffic moves slowly, but the complaints were fast and furious, as Dyker Heights residents slammed the Department of Transportation last week for failing to correct problems the agency caused when it revamped the Fort Hamilton Parkway exit of the Gowanus Expressway.
Last summer, the agency made a series of controversial changes meant to improve pedestrian safety — including installing Jersey barriers, eliminating a lane of traffic, and splitting traffic movements — without discussing the plan publicly.
Ever since, frustrated residents have contended with traffic backups — and the increasingly aggressive behavior of drivers caught in them.
The frustration isn’t only over the traffic, but the city’s response to it.
After waiting months for the Department of Transportation to address the traffic, scores of residents showed up at St. Ephrem’s School on Fort Hamilton Parkway and 74th Street on April 14 after being promised that the city would reveal its fix.
But the city had no plan in hand.
“You came unprepared, and that’s totally unacceptable,” said Fran Barris, who lives at Seventh Avenue and 81st Street.
Deputy Borough Commissioner Keith Bray said it would take two more weeks to come back with a plan for the exit — which backs up so badly during rush hour that motorists often drive frantically to get past the jam. It’s an accident waiting to happen.
“Someone’s going to get hurt,” warned Lisa Bonomolo, the crossing guard at PS 127, at 78th Street. Bonomolo said she has witnessed cars cutting across the grass median to turn onto 79th Street. “Something has got to be done, for the safety of the children and everyone,” she said.
Christine Kennedy, who lives on 78th Street, said the main problem was a reconfigured roadway.
“I have my children checking to the left for traffic,” she said. “Now, traffic is coming from the right.”
Other people at the meeting complained that an emergency vehicle would not be able to get to a crisis during rush hour.
“The classic New York rule is that somebody has to die to get it changed,” said John Cullen.
©2010 Community News Group
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