Confusing exit signs will stay on Gowanus Expressway until August: State

Confusing exit signs will stay on Gowanus Expressway until August: State
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Keep calm and stay straight.

Drivers are complaining about confusing signs where the Belt Parkway splits from the Gowanus Expressway but the state Department of Transportation say the perplexing placards will remain for another six weeks.

Drivers on the Gowanus looking to get on the Belt are getting stuck on the Staten Island-bound Gowanus because signs posted on the thoroughfare near ongoing roadwork tell them to keep right for the parkway exit — even though the right-most lane actually leads to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

The dumbfounding directions are even causing some drivers to stop in the middle of the three-lane highway to get their bearings, according to frustrated members of Community Board 10’s transportation committee.

“The signage is horrendous,” said committee member Doris Cruz. “People stop dead, because they don’t know where to go. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Signs telling people to keep right ought to instruct them to keep to the center lane if they want to enter the Belt, said committee member Brian Kaszuba.

The problem with that idea, according to officials from the state Department of Transportation, is that the center lane changes over the course the day to the expressway’s high-occupancy vehicle lane during rush hours

“The problem is the HOV lane. If you say ‘center,’ it’s confusing because its only after 10 am, when the HOV opens [to single-occupant vehicles] when it becomes a center lane — before that, you have right or left, that’s it,” said expressway engineer Magdy Elkafafi.

To combat the confusion, the department brought in flashing electronic signs and even painted messages on the appropriate lanes, state officials said.

“It’s written on the concrete — we tried everything,” said state Department of Transportation construction supervisor George Hanna.

But that still hasn’t solved the problem, said another CB10 member.

“It’s still very confusing,” said board member Nick Nikolopoulos.

Nonetheless, department officials said that the signage, however confusing, will remain in place until the roadwork is complete later this summer.

The construction is part of an ongoing $214-million project to replace the roadway deck between Fourth Avenue and 52nd Street, which started in 2010. Construction was originally planned to be completed last month, but the state comptroller delayed awarding the project, setting it back more than three months, Hanna said.

The work is part of a larger, 11-year-long “interim” repair project along the entire expressway, which stretches from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Verrazanno-Narrows Bridge.

The state is conducting the work at the same time the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building a ramp to connect the Expressway’s commuter lane to one on the Verrazanno-Narrows Bridge.

Officials expect to open all traffic lanes between Fourth Avenue and 52nd Street by August and complete the project by December, Hanna said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.