Ninth Street redesign coming in June, officials say

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Community News Group / Colin Mixson

City transit leaders will unveil their plan to make Ninth Street safer in June, two months later than promised after a driver hit five people — killing two kids and a pregnant mother’s unborn baby — crossing the road at Fifth Avenue in March, according to a Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

But before the city drops its safety scheme at a meeting of Park Slope’s Community Board 6 on June 21, the panel’s transit gurus said they will meet with locals and officials at Park Slope’s MS 51 on May 30 to solicit ideas for improving Ninth Street — an open roadway where drivers frequently speed, especially near the intersection at Fifth Avenue, which this newspaper’s former editor compared to the “plains of Montana.”

“The idea is to give people the opportunity to identify places they consider dangerous,” said Eric McClure, chairman of the board’s Transportation Committee.

Transportation Department reps will begin the May session by briefing attendees on the agency’s various street-safety “tools” — such as parking-protected bike lanes and sidewalk extensions called bump-outs at intersections — before locals gather around neighborhood maps to pinpoint the exact locations on Ninth and other Slope streets where certain fixes should be made, McClure said.

“Most of the workshop will be devoted to people sitting around tables identifying dangerous locations around the neighborhood,” he said.

And any tips submitted that don’t wind up in the Ninth Street redesign Transportation Department leaders will present weeks later may still inform future street-safety initiatives the agency undertakes in the Slope, according to McClure.

“I don’t think what comes out of the workshop is guaranteed to lead to any changes on Ninth Street, which they’ve been working on since shortly after the March crash,” said McClure. “But I think they’ll give a lot of consideration to what people identify as dangerous areas, not only on that street, but around the neighborhood.”

Transportation Department chief Polly Trottenberg promised to implement pedestrian-safety improvements on Ninth Street “as soon as the weather permits” three days after motorist Dorothy Bruns ran a red light at Fifth Avenue and plowed into five people crossing the street there on March 5.

Youngsters 1-year-old Joshua Lew and 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein died immediately following the crash, and Blumenstein’s then seven-months-pregnant mother, award-winning stage actress Ruthie Ann Miles, lost her unborn child on May 11 due to injuries the full-term baby sustained in the collision, after which a grand jury indicted Bruns on reckless-manslaughter charges that could land her behind bars for up to 15 years.

But the March crash is just one of several fatal incidents on Ninth Street, where five people — including Miles’s unborn child — died since 2009, and 33 more sustained injuries since 2010, according to a safe-streets advocate who’s pushed for fixes on the thoroughfare for years.

“When you look at the overall pattern, it suggests something more needs to be done,” Doug Gordon, the author of pro-cycling blog Brooklyn Spoke, said of Ninth Street at a rally following the March crash there.

Share your safety tips for Ninth Street and other Park Slope roads at MS 51 (350 Fifth Ave. between Fourth and Fifth streets in Park Slope) on May 30 at 6:30 pm.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixs[email protected]glocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.