Gowanus Distressway: Signs still wack after promised fix

Gowanus Distressway: Signs still wack after promised fix
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Who signed off on this?

The state Department of Transportation must make good on its promise to make the Gowanus-Expressway-and-Belt-Parkway split navigable, frustrated motorists say. The agency put up perplexing temporary placards telling drivers how to negotiate the perpetually under-construction stretch and promised to replace them with readable, permanent posts by August. Officials re-jiggered the guides since August, but the new, still-temporary signs are totally misleading and causing people to drive erratically, one miffed motorist said.

“They’re right at the meaty point of the split, and the paint on the roadway leading up to it is worn out,” said Richard Hecht. “You’re driving at 50 miles an hour and that’s supposed to be your notification of the lane? It’s ridiculous.”

The state built a high-occupancy vehicle lane along the left side of the roadway leading to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, but the two right lanes also lead to the Gowanus Expressway and majestic, half-century-old span. Drivers must stay in a center lane to enter the Queens-bound Belt Parkway, but the state’s temporary signs at the split mistakenly suggest motorists move to the right-hand lanes to get there, drivers say.

The state put up new signs after completing some of work on the roadway in August, but the area remains confusing, and Belt Parkway-seeking travelers often erroneously end up on the Gowanus Expressway — or execute white-knuckle swerves into the Belt Parkway lane, said Community Board 10 member Doris Cruz.

“They did put up better signage — I’m not going to say its good signage, but it is better,” she said. “It’s all low at the driver’s level, so people don’t see it until they’re right on top of it. It causes dangerous, erratic driving.”

The split has become notorious with area drivers who have begrudgingly learned to roll with the changes, but out-of-towners and infrequent highway users are constantly caught off guard, a local pol said.

“It’s nonsense, you either have to make quick sense of the signs — which change every so often — or know the area very well,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge).

The construction causing the commotion is part a state overhaul to the aging, raised roadway that started in 2010. Officials originally intended the work to be done in May, but the state comptroller delayed awarding cash for the project, which pushed back the completion date, a state construction supervisor told the community board in June.

The state Department of Transportation did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.