City’s Eastern Parkway fix includes signals, medians and a bike lane

City’s Eastern Parkway fix includes signals, medians and a bike lane
Community Newspaper Group / Laura Gottesdiener

Eastern Parkway would be transformed from a menacing speedway into a pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly strip under a new city plan that will begin construction next month.

The long-awaited reconstruction of the half-mile stretch from Grand Army Plaza to the Brooklyn Museum in Prospect Heights — including the terrifying intersection where four-lane Washington Avenue meets five-lane Eastern Parkway — will add crosswalks, traffic signals and a new westbound bike path on the median between the parkway and its service road.

The $6-million project will also update sewers and water mains.

Residents have long hated this Washington Avenue intersection, where there is an average of two pedestrian injuries each year.

“There was a huge accident just this morning,” said Christine Scanlon, who lives on this corner across from the Brooklyn Museum. “An SUV jumped the curb on Washington and the front fender smashed a window in our building!”

The crash included two other cars colliding in the intersection, which catapulted the SUV into the fancy apartment building. A bent public telephone is a lingering relic of the violent smash-up.

Residents began lobbying for improvements in 2000, and the city has been promising a redesign for years.

The main problems are the lack of a pedestrian signal opposite the museum and the stream of cars zooming along the Eastern Parkway service road. Adding to the chaos are cars making illegal U-turns on Eastern Parkway and pedestrians ignoring crosswalks in a rush to get to the Eastern Parkway subway station.

“In the morning, people walk across the service road to the subway, and they never know if a car will jet from Eastern Parkway or the service road,” said Chris Siudzinski, who lives on Washington Avenue across from the Brooklyn Museum.

The plan will widen the median in front of the Brooklyn Museum farther into the intersection so pedestrians crossing Washington Avenue can use the strip as a refuge.

The plan will also extend the current web of crosswalks to include one for bikes crossing Washington Avenue on the new one-way westbound bike lane, which will link Eastern Parkway to existing bike lanes in Grand Army Plaza and Prospect Park West. The plan also includes new traffic signals, although the city did not specify the locations.

The city expects construction to be completed in 2012 — but, after a decade of inaction, some residents are saying they’ll believe it when they see it.

“The city says it will fix it, but it never does,” said Sherice Smith, 20, of Prospect Heights.

Danger zone: That wacky intersection of Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue is a menace. But a city plan could help the problem.
Photo by Tom Callan