Columbia Street wants normalcy

The Brooklyn Paper / Sebastian Kahnert

After three years of rebuilding Columbia Street, work crews are finally down to the last few blocks — between Atlantic Avenue and Congress Street. But residents complain the city needs to step up street cleaning, restore bus routes and plant parking signs along the main drag.

Garbage is everywhere in the waterfront barrio, despite a mostly paved, tree-lined street. And residents said they remain confused about where to park and catch a bus.

The B61, the mass transit lifeline for the hard-to-reach neighborhood, had been rerouted along Hicks Street during the road work, but in recent weeks its path has been inconsistent. Officially, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the bus will continue on Hicks Street for two more months, but it has been spotted traveling on Columbia Street.

Meanwhile, there’s a shortage of parking signs on many blocks, causing uncertainty whether certain spaces are legal. Others are interpreting it as a free pass to park at will.

The street itself is becoming dirty (see photo) — and a neighborhood source said it was because there has been no street cleaning for weeks.

But the Department of Sanitation said it has not curtailed street cleaning.

“We are cleaning the streets as normal,” said agency spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins.

The lengthy rehabilitation of Columbia Street had been a source of frustration for neighbors, so when the city announced it was near on the end this spring, the community swelled with relief. Freebird Books even threw a party in May.

“Everyone was excited,” said Brian McCormick, a member of the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association. “But it’s pretty dismal. The street looks very fringe-y after great expectations.”

The city’s Department of Design and Construction says the last stage of reconstruction between Atlantic Avenue and Congress Street will finish in four to six weeks, give or take.

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