Mer-mad Avenue: Coney Islanders furious at Mermaid Ave. traffic during Surf Ave. closure

Mer-mad Avenue: Coney Islanders furious at Mermaid Ave. traffic during Surf Ave. closure
Photo by Julianne McShane

Coney Islanders are demanding boots on the ground.

The city must put traffic agents at intersections along Mermaid Avenue because traffic along the stretch has become a nightmare, according to locals, ever since the city closed two blocks of Surf Avenue in September for months of roadwork. The closure has made driving in the area a headache, according to the chairwoman of Community Board 13.

“Traffic is horrendous,” said JoAnn Weiss. “The buses, the cars, they’re off Surf Avenue and using Mermaid Avenue. We need people out there pulling traffic to get it moving.”

District manager Eddie Mark said that earlier this month the board asked the police department to station traffic agents at the intersections of Mermaid and Stillwell avenues and Mermaid Avenue and W. 23rd Street from 9 am until 5 pm because those are the intersections where the B36 and X28/38 buses — which formerly went down Surf Avenue — now turn to travel down Surf and Neptune avenues, respectively. But so far, no agents have appeared, according to Mark, who added that drivers on Mermaid Avenue now sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic because of the work being done on Surf.

“It’s frustrating because you can’t go as fast as you used to because there’s twice as many cars on Mermaid that used to be on Surf,” Mark said.

Construction on the city’s controversial three-phase plan to raise Surf Avenue between W. 16th and W. 21st streets to three and a half feet above the street’s existing grade began on Sept. 15. The phase-one road closures — comprising W. 16th–W. 19th streets and half of W. 17th Street between Surf and Mermaid avenues — are due to last until mid-December.

In phase two, Surf Avenue between W. 19th and W. 20th streets — including half of W. 19th Street between Surf and Mermaid avenues and all of W. 20th Street on the same block — will close from December until next March.

In the final phase, from next March until May, the city will close Surf Avenue between W. 20th and W. 21st streets.

The street-raising work is a product of the neighborhood’s 2009 rezoning, and is meant to both facilitate better drainage of storm water and support a major development along that stretch of Surf Avenue, according to a rep from the Economic Development Corporation, which is overseeing the project.

The police department did not immediately respond to an inquiry about when it might deploy traffic agents to the area.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.