If at first you don’t succeed: City to try again to revamp dangerous roadway

The city is coming to pay the piper.

Months after it angered residents by revamping a problematic exit from the Gowanus Expressway in Dyker Heights, the city’s Department of Transportation has come to the community for some advice.

The agency was meeting with residents at St. Ephrem’s School, 74th Street between 10th Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway, this Wednesday at 7 pm to hear their ideas and concerns regarding the Fort Hamilton Parkway exit from the highway, which was reconfigured last summer, causing cries of outrage from area residents.

“They made the change without any real consultation with the community, and it has caused lots of problems,” said Fran Vella-Marrone, the president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association.

The agency appears to be trying belatedly to make amends. Representatives at the meeting planned to solicit input for a plan still under development, said an agency spokesman, who noted that the department would shortly be making a presentation of proposed alterations to Community Board 10, which had arranged the meeting.

CB10’s District Manager Josephine Beckmann said the changes the city is now contemplating include “a different pedestrian crossing movement, and some changes to the physical layout” of the intersection.

The addition of Jersey Barriers and pavement markings at the exit was done to enhance safety at the location near Public School 127.

Previously, people crossing to and from the school have been hit by vehicles maneuvering across the strip, and once a car actually “went through” the school fence, Beckmann noted.

“The area is much safer,” Beckmann said, thanks to the “split traffic movements. But, making it safe, we’ve received complaints about traffic backing up at peak hours, both on the highway and the service road.”

As a result, Beckmann said, Sunset Park-bound traffic nearing the merge of Fort Hamilton Parkway and Seventh Avenue, seeing the congestion ahead, are detouring into Dyker Heights.

Additionally, during the evening rush and at night, Bay Ridge-bound traffic backs up along Fort Hamilton Parkway Avenue from the highway all the way back to Bay Ridge Parkway.

CB10 member Bob Cassara is not surprised by the ripple effect.

“You push in one spot, there’s going to be a problem somewhere else,” he contended.

Cassara, who has been battling against truch traffic on Fort Hamilton Parkway for over a dozen years, offered his advice for fixing the problem.

“The thing that would help the most would be to stop traffic coming off the highway from going down Fort Hamilton Parkway,” he said, “[Seventh Avenue is a] wide street that can accommodate a lot of cars and trucks.”