Phase one of Atlantic Avenue redesign brings slew of traffic-calming measures to busy roadway

HWD10105_During Construciton – Aerial Progress Photo
The remodeling of 1.2-mile stretch of Atlantic Avenue in East New York introduced a slew of safety and infrastructure upgrades to the roadway.
New York City Department of Transportation

City officials on Thursday unveiled a mile-long, remodeled stretch of Atlantic Avenue in East New York, marking the completion of the city’s first “Great Street” — a Department of Transportation initiative aimed at improving safety on a swath of hazardous thoroughfares. 

“There’s no better place for the first ‘Great Streets’ completion than Atlantic Avenue, one of Brooklyn’s central arteries,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Unfortunately, it has historically been the case that Black and Brown neighborhoods were often overlooked when it came to streetscape improvements. With this project, we are beginning to rectify a legacy of disinvestment.”

The redesign — which stretches for 1.2 miles from Pennsylvania to Logan avenues — is a part of the de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero initiative. Work to Atlantic Avenue so far includes a range of traffic-calming enhancements such as curb extensions, new sidewalks, raised medians and left-turn bays in addition to upgraded traffic lights and lamp posts. New water basins and catch basins were also installed along the corridor.

“Thanks to curb extensions and a raised median, pedestrians will have a much easier time crossing this segment, which has seen far too many crashes, injuries and deaths over the years,” said Erwin Figueroa, director of organizing at non-profit street safety group Transportation Alternatives. “This is a promising step forward, and we look forward to working with the to ensure that future Great Streets redesigns safely accommodate all road users.”

This particular section of Atlantic Avenue saw an especially high number of accidents prior to the project’s start, according to city data, with more than 1,180 injuries and three deaths between 2010 and 2014.

“The Great Streets program was designed to transform once-dangerous thoroughfares into more welcoming boulevards with calmer traffic that no longer divide surrounding neighborhoods,” said city Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

Completion of the 21-block span concludes the city’s first phase of the Atlantic Avenue overhaul. The agency is slated to begin work on the second half of the roadway, from Logan Avenue to Rockaway Parkway in Queens, later this year. Phase two of the project will also include the reconstruction of a center median, the addition of a raised bike lane and expanded pedestrian refuges at intersections along the avenue, according to a list of the agency’s current projects.

“This project has made a large section of Atlantic Avenue safer, calming traffic, and also beautifying the area in the process,” said Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “This is a great milestone in the ‘Great Streets’ initiative and we look forward to working with our partners at DOT to extend these improvements to other neighborhoods when we begin the second phase of Atlantic Avenue later this year.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced the $250 million “Great Streets” initiative in 2015 with an intent to update and improve on four crash-prone roadways in the three of the city’s outer boroughs — Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, Grand Concourse in the Bronx and Queens Boulevard in Queens, as well as Atlantic Avenue.