A radical redesign is in store for Fourth Avenue, if a new Department of Transportation proposal goes through.
The city previewed a draft plan for the Bay Ridge stretch of the thoroughfare that would shave it down to a single lane in each direction for 13 blocks between Ovington Avenue and 84th Street, a painted median running down the middle of the avenue.
The city also proposes to create a left turn bay at 75th Street, install a concrete pedestrian island on the southern side of the 86th Street intersection, and eliminate an unspecified number of parking spots.
The new designs are a response to resident complaints about speeding, double parking, and hazardous pedestrian conditions along the corridor, which the transportation department heard at a Jan. 24 public workshop in the neighborhood.
The lost lane would create space to accommodate patients at doctors’ offices on the strip, who now frequently leave their cars in the street because of insufficient parking spots along the curb, and also place no parking “drop-off zones” at certain corners for standing vehicles. But the designers claimed that their sophisticated software showed that the new layout would not cause traffic jams.
“We’ve modeled it, and the delay would be insignificant,” said city planner Jesse Mintz-Roth.
But some Ridgites who came out for the March 21 showcase were unconvinced, pointing to congestion resulting from confusion around recently-redrawn traffic lines in nearby Sunset Park.
“It’s going to back up everything,” objected Kathy Byrne. “Driving down Fourth Avenue where you changed it already is terrible.”
Community Board 10 member Allen Bortnick argued the proposal was the culmination of an anti-auto conspiracy on the part of Department of Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. He claimed that the January public workshop was a sham, and that the city had drawn up the plans months in advance.
“Sadik-Khan is really Sadist-Khan, and she never met a car she liked,” said Bortnick. “They’re duping the public.”
But others applauded the lane changes. Maureen Landers — who co-founded pro-traffic-control group Bay Ridge Advocates for Keeping Everybody Safe after a car struck her while she was crossing Fourth Avenue several years ago — argued that the community wants and needs the new designs, especially given the speeding epidemic and the rash of recent pedestrian accidents.
“How many more years do we have to have this conversation about safety, how many more accidents do we have to have?” demanded Landers. “We don’t have a congestion problem on Fourth Avenue, we have a speeding problem, and this is a step in the right direction.”
The city reps said they would tweak the plans to address resident concerns in coming weeks, and submit them to CB10 for approval in the next two months.