Neighbors: State refuses to make Ocean Parkway death trap safer

Neighbors: State refuses to make Ocean Parkway death trap safer
Photo by Steve Solomonson

They want a new Ocean Parkway plan.

Kensington residents demanded that the state Department of Transportation make long-overdue safety improvements to the dangerous intersection of Ocean Parkway and Church Avenue where a 73-year-old woman was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer last week.

Steps away from where Ngozi Agbim was run over, residents and safety advocates joined by Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) rallied on Friday for a safer intersection. Lander launched a petition that day calling on the state agency to spend the money that has already been allocated to make the intersection more pedestrian-friendly by installing a median along the wide crosswalk.

That plan, which residents said could have saved Agbim’s life, was rejected the state, and the money has not been spent, said the councilman.

“The community has long known that this intersection needs to be made safer,” Lander said.

Agbim, of Buckingham Road, was walking east on Church Avenue at 9:40 am on June 24. As she attempted to cross the nine-lane intersection where Ocean Parkway meets the Prospect Expressway, she was hit by a truck turning right onto Prospect from Church Avenue. Agbim died at the scene, police said.

Family members of Agbim joined the rally, demanding that safety measures for the intersection be implemented in their dead relative’s name.

“Her death is now a beacon – a rallying point for change,” said Agbim’s brother-in-law Eugene Agbimson.

Safety upgrades for the intersection at Ocean Parkway and Church Avenue was a winner in Lander’s “participatory budgeting process” — which gives citizens the chance to choose how to spend $1 million in taxpayer funds by voting on a series of public improvement projects in their districts — last year.

Lander allocated $200,000 for the safety measures.

“We did review the proposed improvements of the intersection, and we found that they would not improve the safety of the intersection,” said state Transportation spokesman Adam Levine. He added that a new safety project for the intersection is in the works.

Lander said the state has proposed eliminating the crosswalk entirely, which he says would make the thoroughfare even more dangerous.

“We’ve been going back offering recommendations on the plan,” said Levine. “Some of which have not been approved by the city and we are working on resolving everyone’s issues.”

Tri-State Transportation Campaign designated Ocean Parkway as the borough’s most dangerous roadway for pedestrians in a study last year, because motorists killed six people on the boulevard between 2009 and 2011. Four people were killed and 36 pedestrians and cyclists were injured at the Ocean Parkway and Church Avenue intersection between 1995 and 2008, according to statistics provided by the anti-car groupTransportation Alternatives.

Residents who are afraid to cross the treacherous intersection said that a safety solution is absolutely necessary.

“My family and I cross that intersection daily,” said Arlette Mathis of Kensington. “We fear crossing because even with the signage, drivers speed onto the Prospect Expressway and seldom yield to pedestrians.”

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

Death trap: A 73-year-old woman was struck and killed by a tractor trailer on June 24, when she was attempting to cross the dangerous nine-lane intersection at Church Avenue where Ocean Parkway meets the Prospect Expressway.
Photo by Steve Solomonson