Crossing Atlantic Avenue to reach Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 will no longer be a dangerous game of “Frogger” for park-goers after the city stops allowing motorists to make right turns on red.
Drivers turning onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on-ramp have blatantly ignored a massive “no turn on red” sign installed last year — but now the Department of Transportation says it will eliminate the suburban-style turns and introduce a “pedestrian only” signal phase as soon as this summer.
“This is going to save lives,” said Paco Abraham, a vice president of the Cobble Hill Association. “We just can’t have intersections like that if we want people to have safe access to Brooklyn Bridge Park.”
Current rules allow drivers to make right turns on red between 7 and 10 am on weekdays — but city officials admit that many motorists make right turns on red at all times.
Locals have long demanded that the city completely ban rights on red at the inersection, but Department of Transportation officials refused, saying that doing so would back up traffic on Atlantic Avenue in the morning rush.
But traffic planners now insist the new plan will allow 120 more vehicles to get onto the interstate per hour.
“Our hope is that by removing the slightly abnormal right turn on red sign, people will stop doing it eventually,” said senior project manager Ted Wright.
The plan also includes shortening the 80-foot-long crosswalk by constructing a traffic island, adding bollards between the two lanes of westbound Atlantic Avenue traffic nearing the ramp to prevent cars from making dangerous turns from the center lane, and building a median to prevent eastbound Atlantic Avenue motorists from turning left onto the interstate during red lights.
Park-lovers have clamored for a traffic fix to the area
since the park opened with a dog run and mega-playground in the summer of 2010. The city took up the cause a year later,
beefing up bike access on nearby Columbia Street, but neighbors said the changes didn’t go far enough.
Sandy Balboza, president of the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, said that the city’s latest plan still isn’t sufficient.
She wants a countdown clock at the intersection for pedestrians.
“At least the [Transportation Department] is making an effort,” she said. “But it needs to be monitored to see if it all works.”