City’s traffic calming plan excites local residents

The city is ready to install traffic-calming measures at West Sixth Street and Kings Highway as dozens of residents and business owners are rallying to stop the plan in its tracks.

Neighbors are furious that the city plans to narrow the roadway from four lanes to two, making way for center medians and left turn bays at some intersections, while banning left turns at three intersections, including Kings Highway.

“The city is making the intersection even more dangerous because emergency vehicles now have no lane to cut through,” charged Mimma Careri, owner of Italia Pizza on the corner on Kings Highway and West Sixth Street. “Already traffic is backed up on West Sixth Street from here to Avenue P.”

Others charged that banning left turns going east from West Sixth Street onto Kings Highway will force trucks making deliveries on the commercial corridor to drive up the narrow residential blocks of West Fifth and West Seventh streets.

Protesters have sent a letter to the Department of Transportation demanding a “Stop Work Order” for the ongoing construction until the community gets more input.

“We aren’t even considered important,” said Iris Chiu, president of the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn. “They should have been a public hearing to let us tell them how the changes will affect our quality of life.”

But a Department of Transportation spokesman said Community Board 11 in November, 2009,requested the agency look into improvements for pedestrians in the corridor. This proposal was then sent back to the community board last month and unanimously approved.

“As part of the community notification process, the agency distributed flyers in the community a week before work began,” said the spokesman.

Community Board 11 District manager Marnee Elias-Pavia said it approved the plan because the Department of Transportation presented data that between 2004-2009, there were seven traffic fatalities along the West Sixth Street corridor, including two at the West Sixth Street and Kings Highway intersection.

Additionally, there were 206 traffic-related injuries during those years, she said.

“This was a safety plan that needed to be done to protect lives,” said Elias-Pavia. “If it means trucks and other traffic has to go down another block to turn left then so be it. I don’t think you can put a value on a life.”

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