City: Time to 86 left turns at Fourth Avenue

City: Time to 86 left turns at Fourth Avenue
Photo by Steve Solomonson

A city plan to fix an accident-prone intersection on 86th Street by banning all left turns onto Fourth Avenue will cause gridlock further down the road, say pols and residents who are demanding the city take its proposal back to the drawing board.

The plan submitted by the Department of Transportation to Community Board 10 last week would also turn five blocks of 86th Street from Shore Road to Fourth Avenue, which is now four lanes, into a two-lane road, and install planters at the dangerous Fourth Avenue intersection — where there were 91 accidents between 2005 and 2009.

But CB10 members said banning traffic from turning left there would be a mistake since left-hand turns are already banned at Fifth Avenue, leaving Fort Hamilton Parkway, which is two blocks away, as the only place within the commercial corridor where the turns will be allowed.

“It will be gridlock,” said CB10 District Manager Josephine Beckman.

The move is part of a city-wide traffic calming initiative in which Mayor Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, have installed bike lanes, center-lane planters, bollards, street corner “neckdowns,” and other traffic-calming devices throughout Brooklyn, angering many locals, who, on some occasions, have protested so loudly the city has reversed engines.

For instance, the city installed traffic calming islands on Fort Hamilton Parkway near Maimonides Medical Center, but tore them out six months later after locals complained the medians would slow down emergency vehicles.

Because of that waste of money — along with the fact that Borough President Markowitz has a plan to make the entirety of Fourth Avenue more pedestrian-friendly — some pols are balking at the 86th Street plan.

“I’m not prepared to endorse that idea knowing the disaster that they created by Maimonides,” said Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), who said he would like the city to wait until borough officials complete the massive redesign of Fourth Avenue.

The cost of the smaller project is not yet known, but construction could begin sometime next year after the design is finalized, said Nicole Garcia of the Department of Transportation.

Some merchants and board members backed the plan, saying it was about time the city did something about the dangerous intersection.

“We’ve had accidents there for 40 years,” said Patrick Condren, executive director of the 86th Street Business Improvement District.

The intersection is especially busy because Staten Island commuters take the bus from the Rock and transfer at the R Train there, where there often is a line of buses.

“Most of the service connections are located there,” said Condren. “The amount of traffic there has grown over the last five or 10 years, but the city hasn’t changed its infrastructure.”

The portion of the roadway that will lose two lanes — from Shore Road to Fourth Avenue — is mainly residential, and, according to the city, people tend to speed there, and reducing the amount of lanes should slow them down.

“When there’s high capacity on a roadway, drivers tend to speed up,” said Anne Marie Doherty of the Department of Transportation.