Southern Brooklyn civic leaders have given the thumbs up to the city’s plans to upgrade pedestrian safety along one of the borough’s busiest bus routes.
Members of Community Board 18, which spans from Canarsie to Marine Park, voted to approve the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s five-year Capital Improvement Project on Jan. 18, bringing the plan one step closer to reality.
The proposal would affect streets and sidewalks along the B82- SBS route, which spans from East New York to Coney Island, by reconstructing existing medians, while adding landscaping, curb extensions and pedestrian street islands to calm traffic in areas with high foot traffic.
Under the proposal, the DOT also would widen the bus stops and add ADA accessible platforms for Brooklynites with disabilities.
Upgrades along Kings Highway would add better street drainage, renovated asphalt and on-street traffic markings from Ocean Avenue to Avenue K.
While explaining the plan to Community Board 18, Alexander Altskan, senior capital planner for DOT’s transit development, highlighted the need to improve safety for pedestrians.
“Every intervention and element is done from that perspective. That’s kind of DOT’s guiding goals at this point,” Altskan said at the community board meeting. “Cars don’t need protection from pedestrians, it’s the other way around.”
According to Altskan, the DOT came up with the package of street-design changes by examining hotspots where a high concentration of traffic incidents take place — and specifically noted a high concentration of occurrences along Kings Highway, Flatlands Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue.
In their research the department found there were non-ADA accessible bus stops, long pedestrian crosswalks, lack of bus stop amenities and some service roads and medians that were in un-repaired states.
These sore spots have led to an influx of crashes, mainly of which include walkers.
Crash reports show CB18 alone had 960 crashes from Jan. 2022 to Jan. 2023. The area from Ocean Avenue to Pennsylvania accounted for 790 of those incidents, six of which were fatal. Last year a crash at Avenue K and Kings Highway claimed the life of a a 17-year old boy.
“DOT’s capital project will deliver faster and more reliable commutes for 28,000 daily bus riders while also adding space for pedestrians and enhancing safety along the route,” Vincent Barrone, first deputy press secretary for the DOT, told Brooklyn Paper. “We look forward to ongoing discussions with the community before beginning construction on this project later this year.”
The department believes the package of proposals will take five years to complete, but assured local residents that the area would not be “torn up” during that time, and construction would happen in smaller chunks in various phases.
They estimate this is a five year project but say the area will not be “torn up” for all five years but instead takes place in various phases.
“These things take time, we want to do it right and do a quality job,” he said, adding the department’s plan includes a maintenance contract that would guarantee the street upgrades are kept up for the next three years. “Which is new for DOT and kind of a big thing because you can build it and it’ll look nice but if you don’t take care of it, it goes away.”
Now that Community Board 18, along with community boards 14 and 15, gave their approval for the project, the DOT will take their plans to the Public Design Commission (PDC) and begin procuring contractors.
Following preliminary logistics, construction is expected to begin by late this year and wrap up no later than 2028.
“It is going to be super important for us and for DDC and for whoever the contractor is to talk to you [community board 18] and make sure we’re all on the same page,” Altskan said.