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Ocean Parkway driving locals crazy • Brooklyn Paper

Ocean Parkway driving locals crazy

Danger zone: Neighbors say that crossing the nine-lane intersection at Church Avenue where Ocean Parkway meets the Prospect Expressway is a real danger.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Run, don’t walk — if you want to cross Ocean Parkway.

Midwood residents say crossing timers don’t give pedestrians a chance to cross the seven-lane parkway safely.

“Our seniors don’t have enough time to cross the street — no one does,” said Sandy Aboulafia, chairwoman of Community Board 12’s transportation committee.

Now locals are tossing out ideas to make the thoroughfare safer — ahead of a $6 million state initiative to reduce pedestrian-related accidents along the road.

In addition to tweaking the timers, Kensington resident Mike Rosenbluth said cars need to be able to turn without pressure from oncoming drivers.

“They need to fix the lights,” he said. “They must have an interval of only left and right turning.”

Several residents said there needs to be a time when all traffic halts for pedestrians to cross.

“Just stop everything so pedestrians can walk,” Rosenbluth said.

The pedestrian-only crossing times should only occur outside of rush hour, though, said David Shlomovich, who also sits on the committee.

“Otherwise no one will ever get to work,” he said.

The road has claimed several lives in recent years — the latest victim was 73-year-old Ngozi Agbim, who was struck by a tractor-trailer while she crossed the parkway at Church Avenue. Last year, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign named Ocean Parkway the second-deadliest roadway for pedestrians in all of Brooklyn, citing five fatalities between 2010 and 2012.

A safety improvement plan is en route, said a state Department of Transportation spokesman. The state has allocated $6 million for safety improvements along the 4.5-mile stretch of parkway between the Prospect Expressway and the Belt Parkway — but the department is still working on a specific plan based on a study done in late 2013, he said.

The final plan will probably include tweaks to crossing timers, the spokesman said, and the state may also install raised crosswalks and build traffic islands where pedestrians can take refuge in the middle of the avenue.

Parkway roadbeds fall under the state’s jurisdiction, while signals and timers are the city’s responsibility, so the city and state departments of transportation will hold a joint hearing in April to get public input on the plan, but the spokesman said the date has not been set.

The state is hoping to award a construction contract for the as-yet-unplanned project by early next and complete the work by summer 2015.

In the meantime, Aboulafia said she’ll continue working with her committee and lobbying local elected officials to improve pedestrian safety along the parkway.

“There’s no reason for pedestrians to take their lives into their hands to cross Ocean Parkway,” she said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
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

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