They want a different kind of traffic jam.
Locals are demanding city hit the brakes on a plan to make more of Sheepshead Bay one-way and cede nearby streets to pedestrians. Community Board 15 said the idea was a non-starter when the Department of Transportation pitched it last year, but the agency is trying to push it through anyway, and locals feel like they’re getting steam-rolled, one critic said.
“The Department of Transportation is out of control, they do whatever they wish regardless of community opposition,” said Allan Rosen, former director of bus planning for the New York City Transit Authority. “Now, it is going forward without any notification or further discussion. The plan to reroute traffic and buses in Sheepshead Bay is asinine and makes no sense at all.”
The department aims to extend a one-way section of Sheepshead Bay Road from E. 15th Street to Jerome Avenue and create Times Square-style pedestrian plazas on E. 15th Street between Sheepshead Bay Road and Avenue Z and on westbound Jerome Avenue between Sheepshead Bay Road and E. 17th Street. It also plans to move the B36 bus stop from right near the subway entrance to Avenue Z, create a taxi stand on Sheepshead Bay Road away from the subway exit, and resurface area streets, officials said.
Community Board 15 rejected the plan last June during a presentation from the department, claiming it would not reduce traffic congestion and would endanger pedestrians by making public transit users walk an extra block to catch the bus at its new Avenue Z stop.
The changes will improve safety on the blocks around the Sheepshead Bay Road subway station, where a bus hit and killed a woman last December and where there were 74 traffic-related injuries between 2010 and 2014, officials said.
“Safety is DOT’s number-one priority,” a Department of Transportation spokesman said. “The reason behind implementing this Vision Zero safety project in the area is to save lives.”
Area streets are already glutted with cars, and narrowing drivers’ options will just make the roads more bloated, another critic said.
“It is ridiculous to close two blocks right around the hub,” said Steve Barrison. “The cars — where are they going to go? It’s like squeezing a balloon.”
The plan isn’t all bad, like improving road conditions — but altering traffic patterns and constructing pedestrian islands are significant changes that should require a dialogue between locals and the city, said Barrison.
“Repaving is fine, proper markings is fine,” he said. “Let’s sit down with DOT and let’s discuss how we address the problem, you don’t just show up and do it.”