Disgruntled drivers say the new, thinner lanes painted on Emmons Avenue are dangerously narrow and bad for business, but city officials told them the changes to Sheepshead Bay’s busiest thoroughfare will reduce congestion — and that they’re here to stay.
The changes are intended to improve the traffic flow on Emmons Avenue, where Coney Island-bound drivers would jockey for positing at a shorter left-turn bay at West End Avenue, causing a bottleneck.
To give drivers who will turn more space, the Department of Transportation made the following changes between Sheepshead Bay Road and West End Avenue:
• Extended the two left-turn bays on Emmons from E. 15th Street to E. 16th street.
• Removed the left turn lane from Emmons onto E. 16th Street.
• Squeezed the two Coney Island-bound lanes’ width down to 11 feet.
• Widen the pedestrian safety zone in the center of the road from about five feet.
But drivers and business owners said the narrower lanes are making it dangerous to park on the strip, and makes it difficult for trucks to make deliveries businesses there.
“It’s terrible,” complained David Feldman, 28, who lives on Emmons Avenue and said the wider median leaves less room to maneuver around double-parked cars. “Now you have to drive closer to the parked cars, which could cause accidents.”
Fatih Atas said improving the logjam at West End Avenue wasn’t worth rearranging the entire boulevard.
“The city should have left it the way it was,” Atas said.
Department of Transportation spokesman Monty Dean said the changes, which were made at the request of Community Board 15, would “reduce the bottleneck of turning vehicles” from Emmons onto West End.
CB15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo admitted she asked the city to fix the logjam at West End, but said the fix it has come up with is not a good one.
“I don’t know what that accomplished,” she said. “Now Emmons Avenue is too narrow and too tight.”
But Dean defended the city’s decision, though he said new signs might be necessary to make the improvements more clear.
He downplayed the outcry from opponents, saying the response was a common one.
“There is typically an adjustment period with new traffic patterns,” he said.