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City to lower Atlantic Avenue speed limit to 25 miles per hour

Watch your step: Atlantic Avenue’s intersection with Hoyt Street in Boerum Hill saw 39 accidents between 2012 and 2013 and logged an astounding nine crashes in just more than a month in 2009.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Brooklyn’s Avenue of Death and Destruction is getting the go-slow treatment.

The city’s transportation department announced on Wednesday that it would reduce the speed limit along the whole eight-mile length of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn to 25 miles per hour. Atlantic, the brutal and deadly nature of which The Brooklyn Paper examined in an in-depth report last week, will be the first of 25 major thoroughfares in the city to have their speed limits lowered ahead of additional car-slowing measures. Roads czar Polly Trottenberg said that the push to pinch drivers will save lives.

“Crashes on these roads tend to be more deadly,” Trottenberg said at a press conference to announce the plan in Lowry Triangle, a tree-lined plaza at the intersection of Underhill, Washington, and Atlantic avenues. “We’re really going to work to make Atlantic Avenue safer.”

Trottenberg, a resident of the Atlantic-bordering neighborhood Cobble Hill, said her department would also re-time the traffic lights, work with cops to step up enforcement, and explore potential changes to the road’s design, including the expansion of medians to reduce crossing distances.

The move to revamp the arterial street all the way from the New York Harbor to just beyond the Queens border is part of Mayor DeBlasio’s Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2024.

Thomas Chan, the police department’s transportation chief, said officers at local precincts have been trained to help crack down on speeding and other dangerous driving infractions. He also said that education will be a big part of making the streets safer, and that police will partner with the departments of education and aging to to teach people about pedestrian safety.

“Education is a long-term solution,” Chan said. “But our officers will be doing enforcement out there now.”

The shift would increase travel times from the water to the Queens line by three minutes to 19 minutes, assuming a driver was able to hit green lights the entire way.

The chaotic car track continues for two more mile into Queens, but that stretch will keep its current speed limit.

The new speed limit will go into effect by the end of the month, Trottenberg said. The city is also exploring the installation of speed cameras to boost enforcement even further, but their hands are tied by state rules that limit placement of the cameras, she said.

“We’d like to have local control over the number of speed cameras and where they go,” she said. “We think they’re a very important enforcement tool.”

Road safety activists are thrilled to see their years of warning about the dangers of the road, which in 2012 and 2013 saw 843 crashes between the water and Flatbush Avenue alone, bearing fruit.

“There’s no place more appropriate for an arterial slow zone,” said Eric McClure, a member of the Park Slope Street Safety Partnership. “This shows that the administration is committed to making the streets safer.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.

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