Dyker Heights gets long sought after traffic study

Helen Klein

After chronic squeaking, the city’s Department of Transportation is finally applying some grease to Dyker Heights traffic woes.

For three years, the Dyker Heights Civic Association (DHCA) has been clamoring for an overall traffic study of the area, and finally, the DOT agreed to do one — albeit 10-block grids at a time.

“We’ve been asking for this survey over and over again,” said City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who announced the study at the recent DHCA meeting. “It isn’t exactly the way we want it but we’ll take it.”

Gentile, the DHCA andCommunity Board 10 are being charged with coming up with the list of grids.

CB 10 has been getting complaints for about two years, ever since DOT installed traffic lights at 10th Avenue and 74th Street, and 10th Avenue and 76th Street, said Josephine Beckmann, the board’s district manager, with residents beefing about cars “going up other streets to bypass those two lights.

“Then, we noticed lights going up in other locations and traffic shifting patterns to avoid the lights,” she went on. In the meantime, Beckmann went on, residents – including those living on side streets – noticed increased traffic on their blocks as DOT made changes, and started requesting a traffic study, including “a comprehensive look at improving traffic flow.”

The issue may have come to a head, however, when DOT installed traffic calming measures at the exit from the Gowanus at Seventh Avenue and 79th Street last year.

While, said Beckmann, in her view the alterations had made the location safer – a key issue given the proximity of P.S. 127 to the exit – it had definitely affected traffic, causing significant backups as well as increasing wayfaring through side streets.

DHCA President Fran Vella-Marrone said traffic problems have been escalating in Dyker Heights – running roughly from 7th Avenue to 14th Avenue and from 65th Street to 86th Street – since the DOT have implemented solutions to certain intersections while ignoring overall traffic patterns,

“They (DOT) operate in a vacuum when they study only one intersection,” she said, adding that installing a traffic light at one intersection willy-nilly often results in the speeding up of traffic as motorists try to make the light before it turns red.

Vella-Marrone said while they would prefer one overall traffic study of the area, the 10-block grid study could be combined to at least paint a better picture of what’s needed.

“We’re very happy they are doing something, and are hoping it will give us a framework on what devices are needed and not needed in the area,” she said.

A DOT spokesperson said the agency will determine the scope, timeline and exact area of the study based on the request submitted to DOT.