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Drivers: Poorly timed signals slow Fourth Avenue

Drivers: Poorly timed signals slow Fourth Avenue
Red light, red light: Cars are hitting long strings of red lights after the city lowered Fourth Avenue’s speed limit to 25 miles per hour without re-timing traffic signals to account for slower-moving traffic.
Photo by Steve Schnibbe

Ridgites just want the city to see the light.

Locals say the city never adjusted traffic signals on Fourth Avenue to jibe with the new 25-miles-per-hour speed limit, greatly slowing law-abiding drivers’ commutes as they hit a red light after red light along the corridor. One local said the out-of-sync traffic lights have tripled his travel time.

“Before they altered Fourth Avenue, during the morning rush hour, I could get from 100th Street in Bay Ridge to Atlantic Avenue in 11 minutes, because the lights were timed and there used to be plenty of lane-age,” Greg Ahl said. “But they changed all that and suddenly its 35 minutes now during the morning rush hour.”

Ahl services business telephones on site for a living, and Fourth Avenue is a vital corridor for him as he travels the borough for work. But he said the poor traffic flow is starting to affect his bottom line.

“I used to be able to knock out 10–12 service calls a day. Now I’m lucky to do eight,” he said.

Community Board 10 is asking the city to study signal timing along the length of the avenue from Bay Ridge to Downtown and adjust the lights accordingly. Such studies typically take 12 weeks, according to the Department of Transportation.

The agency said it has no plans to consider re-syncing the stoplights along Fourth Avenue, but that it is studying the issue citywide, and that drivers should report congestion problems to the city.

“DOT is not changing traffic signal timing based on the new 25 mph speed limit,” a department spokeswoman said. “If residents have any concerns about signal timing in this area, they should call 311 to make an official report.”

But the transportation commissioner’s own account of ideal signal timing suggests Fourth Avenue needs rejiggering.

The city sets signals “such that you will have a smooth progression of green lights if you’re driving safely at the posted speed limit,” Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told the New York Times last year.

That is no longer the case for Fourth Avenue, according to Ahl, and until it is fixed, he said he’ll have to find yet another alternate route.

“The Gowanus [Expressway] always sucks, Third Avenue is not much better, and that left Fourth Avenue,” he said. “Now Fourth Avenue is just another trash road to me.”

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

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