Bright idea for Grand Army Plaza — new traffic light in circle of hell

The hair-raising traffic pattern on the western side of Grand Army Plaza will soon be tranquilized by a new red light to deter drivers from jockeying for position at the most dangerous point in what easily could have been Dante’s 10th circle of hell.

Currently, all Prospect Park West- or Union Street-bound cars traveling northbound inside the white-knuckle roundabout must wait for the briefest of moments to scurry across at least four lanes of traffic to get across Flatbush Avenue.

Transportation officials will fix this problem with a new traffic light on the southbound lanes of Flatbush midway between the top of the circle and the bottom.

“It’s a difficult weave,” said Ryan Russo from the Department of Transportation. “You might call it ‘hell behind the wheel.’ You pretty much have to get your ‘Brooklyn’ on every time you want to drive through.”

The hellacious experience should be made more tolerable by the traffic light, which will “separate conflicting movements,” according to the city.

Along with the new traffic light, the city will continue making upgrades that integrate with the improvements already in place from Prospect Park to Vanderbilt Avenue, as well as the controversial bike lane on Prospect Park West, which will be built this summer.


• The one-way bike path on Plaza Street East and West will be upgraded into a two-way lane similar to the one on Kent Avenue. These reconfigured bike lanes will feed into a similar — and controversial — project on Prospect Park West.

• Three pedestrian islands will be beautified and expanded near the entrance to the park.

• Five new crosswalks will be added near the entrance to the park.

• A simplified pedestrian path at the north end of the plaza, which will make it easier for people to walk towards the historic Soldier’s and Sailor’s memorial arch.

• The space used for the farmer’s market will be resurfaced to make it more distinguishable from the road.

The city has said that construction should start in August and be completed by the end of this year.

The changes in Grand Army Plaza over the past two years have not only been striking, but they’ve inproved safety. In 2000, there were 142 crashes inside the circle, according to city statistics. That number dropped to 39 in 2007 and 26 in 2008.

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