Truck route bout: Big rigs may change lanes in Greenwood Heights

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The city says it will fix a much-loathed Greenwood Heights truck route by moving big rigs to other streets — but some residents say the plan is a trucking nightmare.

Traffic engineers are considering converting 20th Street — a major two-way trucking artery between Third and Seventh avenues — into a one-way street and rerouting tractor trailers traveling in one direction onto Prospect Avenue, 21st Street, or 22nd Street under a plan intended to ease traffic and make the roadway safer.

The proposal might reduce truck traffic on 20th Street, but residents and businesses on now-quiet 21st Street say they don’t want to see their front yard become a dangerous mini-freeway.

“The last thing we need are trucks blowing through here,” said Michael Mendoza, general manager of Toby’s Public House on 21st Street and Sixth Avenue. “We’ve got tables outside — and kids running around.”

Trucks could still use 20th Street to drive east-bound toward the Prospect Expressway, but those heading toward the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway would take Seventh Avenue before turning onto Prospect Avenue, 21st Street, or 22nd Streets, according to a Department of Transportation study made at the request of Community Board 7.

“I just see them moving a problem from one street to another,” said Dan Bono. “One street will be slightly less noisy and the other will be slightly more noisy instead of one very noisy street and one very quiet street now. Whether that’s an improvement I don’t know.”

For some 20th Street residents who are sick of the sound of rumbling of tires, the sight of clipped car mirrors, and the smell of diesel exhaust, any reduction in trucking is a big win.

“It makes sense — we’ve suffered enough dealing with all of these trucks,” said 20th Street resident Alan Goldfarb.

Greenwood Heights dwellers who live along the trucking viaduct have long complained about their noisy road — claiming the street is simply too narrow to accommodate a parade of 18-wheelers traveling between the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the Prospect Expressway.

“It’s a great idea because there’s a lot of accidents, a lot of cars get hit and their mirrors get taken off,” said 20th Street’s Angelica Severino.

But some 20th Street residents fear the city’s plan might actually make things worse.

Per Hoffman, a landlord on the street, said making the road one-way won’t quiet noisy morning traffic — which tends to begin around 5 am, heading east. Instead, he fears a less-constricted roadway would lead to more reckless driving and noise.

“By turning it into a one-way you’re actually making it a more enticing spot to speed,” Hoffman said.

The Department of Transportation will unveil more details of the proposal at a May 30 Community Board 7 meeting, where it will consider neighbors’ feedback before making a decision.

— with Derrick Lytle

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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Reader Feedback

ty from pps says:
I don't know Natalie... So you CAN write a relatively balanced story like this if you try, huh? What clicks in your head when there's any mention of a bicycle? This article proves that you're doing it on purpose. Perhaps you're not a terrible writer, just someone lacking integrity and any fundamental grasp of journalistic ethics.

(Oh I see... this was written "with Derrick Lytle" -- never mind. It's Derrick that gets the kudos here, obviously.)
May 25, 2012, 8:41 am
Jeremy Laufer from CB7 says:
I am the District Manager of CB7 and this article is filled with false information. We were never contacted by Brooklyn Papers.
For example: the proposal does not call for making 21st or 22nd Street a truck route, that would be Prospect Avenue.
Please come to the meeting on 5/30 at 6:30 PM, St. John - St. Matthew Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 283 Prospect Avenue (betw. 5th and 6th Avenues) to learn what is really in the proposal. DOT will be there to clarify.
Afterwards we will be happy to hear your opinions based on what is actually in the plan.
May 25, 2012, 12:39 pm
ty from pps says:
HAHAHA! Oh, I am soooo surprised! I take back my slightly faint praise. So you're not just lacking any semblance of journalistic integrity or ethics, you're also can't even get the basics right.
May 25, 2012, 1:49 pm
MMN from South Slops says:
Is routing the trucks across 7th Ave to Prospect Ave -- right by an elementary school that gets incredibly congested in the mornings and afternoons -- really such a great idea? 7th and Prospect is already an incredibly dangerous intersection. A PS 10 parent was almost killed a few years ago after getting hit by a car there. I will be interested to hear how the city will address the safety issues for kids there.
May 25, 2012, 1:58 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I would rather have the truck routes stay where they are. There is a reason why they need to use the major thoroughfares. Placing them on the side streets will be a disaster. As usual, those that live along the existing truck routes are just in a double standard, because they don't seem want to see them, but don't mind it when it's on someone else's street, which they will say are just complaining. I too find having trucks going by a school a bad idea. Once again, I thank Natalie for covering this.
May 25, 2012, 2:28 pm
martin luther from south south slope says:
I love CB7! At a recent meeting a long time member complained that the streets of SP were dirty and kind of blamed the 5th Ave BID -(which by the way spends its own member's money for extra sanitation). The complainer ignores the fact that CB7 members "swore" the streets were cleaner so they could get less alternate side parking. Hmmmm, let's see - a primer for CB7 members - less alternate side parking means two less days of street cleaning by I wish I could accuse the complainer of being drunk, but alcohol plays no role in this - it is sheer ignorance.
May 25, 2012, 2:32 pm
martin luther from south south slope says:
I also love folks who move to a street that has a truck route and then complain that it is time someone else has it...its like those who moved near JFK airport and then complained about
May 25, 2012, 2:33 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- you thank Natalie for "covering" this? Why don't we stick to thanking Natalie when she actually does her job correctly... totally agree this story should be covered, but come on. Just because you enjoy Natalie's irresponsible brand of "journalism" doesn't make it a positive thing for the neighborhood.

Imagine if Brooklyn had a newspaper that bothered to fact check and didn't take a random crank on the streets of Bensonhurst or Bay Ridge as the definitive voice of the people?

I was actually close to praising Natalie for actually trying to report a story like an adult, but it has quickly been made clear she doesn't know how to do that. But i guess it maintains her page clicks.
May 25, 2012, 3:11 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, whatever you say about her, I can easily say the same thing about those on your side. You have a history of making personal attacks at her for her coverage. You would you like it if someone said that about you? My guess is that you wouldn't, so stop doing that to others. Does the news always have to agree with your side and only your side? If that is the case, then become the next dictator of Zimbabwe, so that media will always report only what you like. The point, those people had a right to express their concerns. If you don't like living along a truck route, then move, and the same goes for living near an airport. When you move to such a place, you can expect this to happen. Anything she says is much less biased than what anyone on Streetsblog reports, and they are probably paid to say such things not to mention having a history of being biased.
May 25, 2012, 4:16 pm
link says:
Jeremy —
Did you see this city report? It actually does propose truck routes on those streets.
May 25, 2012, 4:18 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- Related to the truck routes in Brooklyn, what exactly is "my side"!!

Natalie is a CRAPPY reporter. This has nothing to do with sides. There is no opinion when it comes to where the City has proposed truck routes... it has either been proposed or Natalie is making it up.

Again, WHAT is my side?! There most DEFINITELY needs to be truck routes in Brooklyn. I would argue that the PRIMARY reason we pay taxes to maintain roads is for trucking and emergency vehicles... the truck routes should be safe, efficient and have the lowest impact on quality of life. Simple as that.

Do you even know what is reported in Streetsblog? You always bring it up. Do you really think Streetsblog is some sort of weird fantasy blog that wants to remove all roads and replace all vehicles with bicycles?

Tal -- If you care so much about Brooklyn, why don't you live here? Are you planning on moving here? Do you want to move here? What is your connection to Brooklyn? Why are you always hamasing us from Pleasantville?
May 25, 2012, 6:17 pm
ty from pps says:
Link -- in the street study, the only proposal was looking at Prospect and 22nd as options, not 21st. 21st is not a possible truck route, it just mentions restoring 1-way traffic on that street.
May 25, 2012, 6:24 pm
Jeremy Laufer from CB7 says:
Thank you ty for clarifying that. The study also looks at 22nd Street as an alternative, but it was rejected as a possibility. Not sure if this report reflects that.
May 26, 2012, 7:21 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, whether you take Natalie's side or not, she is entitled to her view just as much as you are to your's. Honestly, let's say I mentioned that Aaron Naperstak, who wrote on Streetsblog, is biased, and he probably is. Would you like that? My guess would be not. Anyway, if you live on a truck route, you can expect to have trucks coming. I do agree with that person above who said it's as meaningless as one living by the airport and complaining about the planes there. The reason why most truck routes are on the major thoroughfares is because they can handle their traffic as does interstate highways, which were designed for them.
May 26, 2012, 4:52 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- If you care so much about Brooklyn, why don't you live here? Are you planning on moving here? Do you want to move here? What is your connection to Brooklyn? Why are you always hamasing us from Pleasantville?
May 26, 2012, 6:44 pm
Jenny from Greenwood Heights says:
Ha, is Toby's Public House trying to appear like a family restaurant? I think Toby's is the least kid friendly restaurant in all of Brooklyn. The icing on the cake for me was when I was told (during an empty weekday afternoon), that I couldn't nurse my newborn, because they don't allow nursing there. I didn't realize this is actually illegal. I will never go back.
May 27, 2012, 8:07 am
Tony from Park Slop says:
Jenny -- You are so oppressed.
May 27, 2012, 10:51 am
Jenny from Greenwood Heights says:
Who's oppressed? I don't feel oppressed. I was merely plublicly enjoying the irony of Toby's pretending to be family joint for this issue, when on every other night they are clearly not. Luckily, there is much deelish Greenwood Heights pizza to be had while or while not nursing.
May 27, 2012, 2:46 pm
Scott from Greenwood Heights says:
I actually live on 20th St. and deal with the trucks throughout the day (when I'm not away at work, that is). It bothered me the first two days of living here. After that, not so much. It's something that I got used to, and have been used to for a few years. Has not woken me up since.

Let's look at the facts. North of 20th St sees a large number of school children congregating/crossing the street during morning (read: peak truck time) and the afternoon. 21st and 22nd street have up to 5 times the amount of children playing on the sidewalk/in the street compared to that of 20th st. I wholeheartedly with Mr. Mendoza, regardless of the fact that Toby's isn't a family restaurant (go further north if that's your bag).

The signs posted on 20th st (the ones that proclaim "THE TIME IS NOW!") mention that people are sick of getting their cars damaged and trucks driving in the middle of the street. What will stop cars from getting damaged on other streets? Also, trucks only venture in the center of the street when vehicles (predominantly truck deliveries for 20th St-based businesses) block entire lanes of traffic, which is the norm during rush hour.

In the end, it's just shifting the problem of 20th St. to another street (or streets). And I agree with Mr. Hoffman about the probable increase of speeding should it turn into a one-way street. I'd also like to add that, due to the restriction of traffic flow on other streets (should this proposal win any elected official over), it's highly likely for an increased presence of trucks during morning rush hour on 20th St., making the current situation even worse.

So, as a resident of 20th St., I'll be at the meeting on Wednesday voicing my opinion on the matter (mostly stated above) in a clear, concise, and adult manner. I only wish the bulk of the people commenting on this story could do the same thing.
May 27, 2012, 3:35 pm
Miriam & Gregg from Greenwood Heights says:
Dear Neighbors,

The issue is simple.

The conditions on 20th Street are unsafe, period.

20th street was not designed to accommodate modern 18-wheel trucks going in two directions.

The street is barely wider then any other one-way side-street in this neighborhood.

DOT's proposal is not about discontinuing 20th Street as a truck route. It's still going to be a truck route with more than 50% of the neighborhood trucks rushing by.

20th Street simply cannot handle two-way traffic.

The street needs to be one-way. Just like every other street in this neighborhood.

That's what the DOT study concluded. They have chosen wider two-way streets to reroute the much lighter westbound truck traffic that cannot fit on 20th.

This issue is about the safety of your neighbors.

Miriam & Gregg
May 27, 2012, 6:42 pm
PJ from Greenwood Hghts says:
I'm not sure I understand the wisdom of changing the status quo - but as long as diverting truck traffic onto purely residential streets is not on the table, I'm willing to listen. 20th St and Prospect are both busy thoroughfares already. What real change is in the offing, and who does it really affect? I'd like to know.
May 27, 2012, 7:54 pm
Scott from Greenwood Heights says:
I have yet to meet someone on the streets with the proposed new routes that will welcome the DOT's plan (or the plan up for grabs at CB7) with open arms.

Can anyone living on 20th St. for a prolonged period of time please tell me how long the current street set-up has been in place for? Also, how are the streets "unsafe," how will the streets with traffic diverted to them be "safe," and what will prevent MORE traffic in the morning (as opposed to the current amount of traffic) from making a ruckus should 20th St. become one-way?

I'd like an answer from someone, preferably from someone living on 20th St.
May 27, 2012, 9:06 pm
GB from Greenwood Heights says:
Well Scott, I have been a resident of 20th street for 8 years. I find it hard to believe why you don't understand the conditions of the street if you actually live here.

Unsafe = Opposing trucks trying to jockey for space on a street that cannot fit their width

Unsafe = Getting into your car and putting your kid in while all this is happening

Unsafe = all the kids and families that live on this street

Unsafe = kids going to all the schools on 20th street in this condition, just like every other street in this city

Unsafe = cars using the sidewalk to make U-Turns to turn the other way, because there is no room to maneuver

DOT's proposal will move 25% of the truck traffic to larger streets that can fit this traffic and create a space that allows the remaining 75% of the trucks and cars to flow safely up 20th street.
May 28, 2012, 8:17 am
Aaron from Greenwood Hts. says:
All I can do is to echo our Dist. Mgr, Jeremy Laufer's call to have folks show up tomorrow night at the presentation to hear the ACTUAL study, not speculation or rumors.

Aaron Brashear
Member, Brooklyn Community Board 7
May 29, 2012, 12:25 pm
Natalie O'Neill from Brooklyn Paper says:
Hi all —

The facts in this article come from a DOT proposal, which suggests new truck routes on Prospect Avenue, 21st Street, or 22nd Streets. Check out the report here:

Also, we did reach out to CB7 but didn't hear back by press time.

Thanks for reading,

Natalie O'Neill
The Brooklyn Paper
(718) 260-4505
May 30, 2012, 11:19 am
HeidiB from Greenwood Heights says:
A very comprehensive and updated presentation (.pdf) was given last evening at the public CB7 meeting by the DOT representative that would provide some clarification. If a posting of that presentation were available to the public, this would allow the neighbors who weren't there or who got there late, to adequately study the proposal that Gregg, Miriam and Jeremy have referred to in their previous posts, but have not offered to the public for review.
May 31, 2012, 11:12 am

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