Sheepshead Bay Road rage! Locals shout at city officials over traffic changes

Barely contain himself: Community leader Steve Barrison tells transportation honcho Keith Bray the city’s changes to Sheepshead Bay Road are a dead-end idea.
Community News Group / Julianne Cuba

They feel bulldozed.

Angry Sheepshead Bay residents spent more than one hour berating city officials on May 3 for forcing unpopular changes to Sheepshead Bay Road down their throats.

The city revived and quickly executed a plan to make the road one-way between E. 15th Street and Jerome Avenue, while also creating Times Square-style pedestrian plazas on portions of the two end streets — one of Mayor DeBlasio’s Vision Zero traffic-safety programs that the community board roundly panned last year.

City reps told Plumb Beach Civic members on Tuesday that the plan was for the good of the people, but one Bay advocate charged it felt more like a tyrant’s mandate.

“This was done like a dictatorship — not like a democracy,” said local leader Steve Barrison, one of many blindsided by the plan’s sudden resurrection a few weeks ago. “Time out, stop what you’re doing. Paint the streets, repave the roads, and then let’s sit down and talk about it.”

But the die is cast, and Brooklyn will be safer, said Department of Transportation borough commissioner Keith Bray.

“We do not, at this time, contemplate changing that, for now,” he said. “We sometimes follow community’s interests, but also we look at the interests of the whole city and safety in general. So if at times DOT feels for safety purposes, something needs to be done, we will do so.”

That explanation did not fly with another fuming local, who refused to give his name.

“You’re telling us it’s for the greater good of the city? You don’t give a damn about what’s good for us,” he said. “We don’t want it. Get rid of it.”

The city made the road one-way last weekend and closed the two side streets to traffic. The city is relying on business groups to turn the empty streets into plazas, but it has not signed any up, according to Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay). And the Metropolitan Transportation Authority moved the B36 bus stop from outside the subway station to Avenue Z and E. 15th Street to locals’ chagrin. The city will also move a taxi stand from outside the subway — the lone measure residents have supported.

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.

But it will just cause more traffic crashes outside the project area — such as at the intersection of Jerome Avenue and E. 17th Street, which will become a bloodbath, one community board member claimed.

“Quite frankly, any attorney that does negligence, they would set up a table and a chair right there at the corner and just give out cards and have retainer forms to sign, because there is going be bodies piling up,” said Maurice Kolodin.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Not so rosy: Allan Rosen, left, is not happy with transportation department and transit authority officials.
Community News Group / Julianne Cuba

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