Eighth Ave and Prospect Park West should go both ways

The Squared Circle: Planners aim to untangle Grand Army Plaza knot

The people have spoken — and they want two-way streets to fix the mess of Grand Army Plaza and the dangerous “speedways” of Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West.

A community survey released this month by the Park Slope Civic Council shows that the neighborhood believes that converting those currently one-way highways into two-way local streets would not only increase pedestrian and cyclist safety, but solve the traffic snarl on Union Street, between Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park.

The danger stems from cars exiting off the Prospect Expressway and barreling up Eighth Avenue — a shortcut to Flatbush Avenue and the Manhattan Bridge beyond. Several participants in the survey called the one-way avenue a speedway and said that crossing it is like putting your life into your hands.

Some attempts have been made in the past to alleviate the problem, but some Slopers say it has been too little.

“The Department of Transportation has added traffic signals and has worked on signal timing to make conditions on these avenues safer,” said Michael Cairl, chair of the Civic Council’s Livable Streets Committee, which led a neighborhood-wide workshop in February.

“But the consensus is that much more needs to be done,” Cairl said.

The two-way “solution” has been a major part of many redesign plans for Grand Army Plaza, including several finalists in last year’s Design Trust for Public Spaces competition.

“We’re convinced that restoring two-way traffic flow to Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West is the best way to … make these streets safer for all users,” said Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors.

The conversions were not the only suggestions made. Other participants want to close off Union Street completely in order to reunite Grand Army Plaza with the rest of Prospect Park, another idea popular from the “Reinventing Grand Army Plaza” competition.