Police, please! Ridge board wants traffic cops for troubled intersection

Police, please! Ridge board wants traffic cops for troubled intersection
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Could a traffic agent point the way out of Bay Ridge’s dysfunction junction?

Community Board 10 is calling on the police department’s traffic enforcement arm to place agents at the problematic 86th Street and Fourth Avenue intersection — but the traffic cops are recommending red-arrow turn lights instead.

The CB10 met with heads of the NYPD Transportation Bureau on Jan. 8 to urge them to assign enforcement agents to the intersection in order to curb collisions — of which there have been 66 of since 2012, making it the second-most-dangerous intersection in all of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.

Leaders of the neighborhood board blamed the perilous environment on illegal habits which they argued a police presence would help deter.

“It is an area of serious jaywalking, speeding, cars double-parking and blocking buses,” said Doris Cruz, chairwoman of CB10’s traffic and transportation committee. “We need some help.”

But enforcement officials warned that the large intersection would require three agents to monitor — and the bureau has just 186 agents for all of Brooklyn, lower Manhattan, and Staten Island. The traffic chiefs instead recommended red-arrow turn lights for Fourth Avenue in both directions, which they said would prevent turning vehicles from getting caught in the intersection after the lights change, or swinging around into the crosswalks while pedestrians have the right-of-way.

“There’s a big mess going on in the middle of the street with the turners,” said traffic enforcement manager Joe Ellis. “A light would cut back on your congestion there.”

But Ellis said the board could still request officers for the junction.

“You can try,” Ellis said.

The city has suggested numerous reforms for the intersection in the past. The board voted against Department of Transportation recommendations in Oct. 2013 for an elevated concrete island in the middle of the Verrazanno Bridge-side of the intersection and a Herald Square-style pedestrian fence — but embraced a proposal for a red-painted, buses-only lane on the side of Fourth Avenue nearest the Narrows.

The neighborhood panel has also suggested relocating one of the five bus lines that use the intersection. CB10 district manager Josephine Beckmann said that the board has already submitted a request to the city for the red-arrow lights, and has been told a study is underway.

The NYPD already has agents posted five days a week at the neighborhood’s most dangerous intersection — 65th Street and Sixth Avenue — which are a holdover from a highway construction project. Authorities assured the board that those crossing guards will not be going anywhere any time soon.

“We plan on maintaining them,” traffic enforcement representative Donald Powe said.

There were 104 collisions at 65th Street and Sixth Avenue in 2012 and 2013.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.