City sidewalk, busy sidewalk! Street pedestrian walkway is now a car lane!

City sidewalk, busy sidewalk! Street pedestrian walkway is now a car lane!
The Brooklyn Paper / Mike Short

They’re calling it “Ratner Road.”

Construction near developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project produced an unusual and confusing detour on Pacific Street that has turned one sidewalk into a lane of car traffic.

Drivers and pedestrians will share the sidewalk for 12 weeks while the city installs sewers near the corner of Sixth Avenue, on the edge of Ratner’s proposed basketball arena and four-skyscraper development. A five-foot-wide path for walkers is separated from moving traffic by a concrete barrier.

This stretch of Pacific Street at Flatbush Avenue is busy due to its proximity to the Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls, plus the subway stations at Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street. A reporter from The Brooklyn Paper observed pedestrians confused by where they were supposed to go, thanks to the presence of an unlabeled arrow pointing vaguely towards the truncated sidewalk.

And motorists who were equally baffled and extremely cautious while veering onto the walkway, which Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn called “Ratner Road” on its anti–Atlantic Yards Web site this week.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever driven on the sidewalk,” said one driver through his car window.

They’re literally driving on the sidewalk at the Atlantic Yards demolition site in Prospect Heights, where workers have turned the pedestrian space on the south side of Pacific Street into a lane for cars.
The Brooklyn Paper / Mike Short

The idea of driving on the sidewalk may be strange to Brooklynites, but the Department of Transportation said it is run-of-the-mill in important construction projects.

“This kind of arrangement is not unique and has been used on projects such as the Second Avenue Subway [in Manhattan] and on major projects on 34th Street in Queens or Richmond Terrace on Staten Island,” said Scott Gastel, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, via e-mail. “We will continue to monitor the area.”

Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don’t Destroy, who lives near the corner, disputed that such sidewalk car lanes are as widespread as Gastel suggested.

“I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve been watching the intersection and makeshift road and sidewalk, and someone is going to get hurt there,” he said. “It is a very dangerous situation that the Department of Transportation has apparently approved on Forest City Ratner’s behalf.”

— with Jacob Kleinman

The Brooklyn Paper / Mike Short

More from Around New York