Safe haven! Steps to stop pedestrian death finally approved for Ocean Parkway intersection

Safe haven! Steps to stop pedestrian death finally approved for Ocean Parkway intersection
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Soon they won’t have to take their walks in the parkway.

A deadly Kensington intersection is getting a safety fix after a months-long push now that the state Department of Transportation has signed off on a safety plan for the crosswalk at Church Avenue and Ocean Parkway, where a 73-year-old woman was struck and killed by a tractor trailer earlier this summer. Pedestrian advocates say the overhaul will turn the terrifying crossing into a safe haven for foot traffic.

“These improvements will make a real difference for pedestrians who have to cross this intersection every day,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope).

The city transportation agency will soon build a pedestrian island where Prospect Expressway empties out at a wide, nine-lane intersection. The agency will also add zebra stripes to the crosswalk to make it more visible to approaching motorists and put up additional signs cautioning drivers.

Last week, Lander joined neighbors and safety advocates to deliver a petition with 800 signatures demanding the improvements to Gov. Cuomo and the state transportation agency. The councilman launched the campaign earlier this summer after Ngozi Agbim was run over by a truck turning right onto Prospect Expressway from Church Avenue as Agbim was attempting to cross. Kensington residents cheered the improvement plan they hope will help them avoid Agbim’s fate.

“I look forward to a safer way for my neighbors to cross this intersection,” said Kensington resident Neil Reilly.

The idea of safety upgrades for the crossing was a winner in Lander’s “participatory budgeting process,” which last year gave citizens the chance to choose how to spend $1 million in taxpayer funds by voting on a series of public improvement projects.

Lander allocated $200,000 for the safety measures, but the money went unspent because the state Department of Transportation deemed the original plan inadequate.

Transportation advocates said that the enhancements will definitely make the intersection safer to cross.

“[The thoroughfare] is essentially a highway in a densely pedestrian-rich part of the city, so these changes will send a strong signal to motorists that it is not a highway,” said Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White.

Last year, a transportation advocacy group designated Ocean Parkway as the borough’s most dangerous roadway for pedestrians, pointing to six walkers killed by cars on the boulevard between 2009 and 2011.

The Church Avenue intersection has proved especially deadly: four people died and 36 pedestrians and cyclists were injured there between 1995 and 2008, according to statistics provided by Transportation Alternatives.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.