Another civic group blasts city plan to remove traffic lanes

A Bensonhurst civic group blasted a city plan to remove two lanes of traffic from two busy strips in the neighborhood. The city wants to slow down cars to make it safer for seniors to cross the street, but opponents claim that the streets are not as bad as the city claims, and say that the measure will only bottleneck traffic.

A Bensonhurst civic panel slammed a city plan that would remove two lanes of traffic from a pair of busy intersections, saying that it would bottleneck traffic and create chaos at corners that are not as dangerous as the city claims they are.

The Department of Transportation wants to remove two lanes of traffic on Stillwell Avenue from Bay Parkway to 86th Street and on Avenue P from W. 12th Street to Dahill Road in order to widen the parking lane to accommodate double-parked vehicles. The city also plans to install traffic calming measures like neck-downs, which extend sidewalks further into the street; traffic islands; left-hand turn lanes; longer red lights; and high-visibility crosswalks to several spots in the area.

But Community Board 11 panned the proposal at its meeting earlier this month, saying the lack of lanes would bring traffic to a standstill.

“What they’re doing is bottle-necking traffic until you can’t move people or goods anymore,” said CB11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia.

The street currently has a 19-foot moving and parking lane and an 11-foot moving lane in each direction. But under the city’s plan, the parking lane would be reduced to 14 feet and the driving lane would be shrunk by one foot to accommodate 12-foot islands with tree planters and left-hand turning lanes.

The city claims the areas are among the borough’s most dangerous for pedestrians — especially senior citizens, many of whom take longer to cross the street.

But Elias-Pavia said that traffic is already so bad, cars can barely hit the speed limit.

“The roads are in such poor condition that people couldn’t go over 30 miles-per-hour without killing their car,” she said. “They said it was a high-ranked corridor [in terms of how dangerous it is] but there is a traffic signal on every corner.”

The board backed the other changes, but said that removing the lanes was a non-starter.

The reaction to the plan in Bensonhurst follows a similar proposal in Bay Ridge — one that was also blasted by the community board there.

Scott Gastel of the Department of Transportation said that the city has not decided yet whether it will remove the lanes, and plans to discuss it further with the community board.

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@cnglocal.com or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at twitter.com/dsmacleod.

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