Speed limit to be reduced in Boerum Hill

Drivers whizzing through Boerum Hill better ease off the gas now that the quiet brownstone enclave is getting Brooklyn’s first speed limit-reducing “slow zone.”

The Department of Transportation signed off on a traffic-calming measure last week that will reduce the speed limit from 30 to 20 miles per hour in the largely residential area bounded by Smith Street, and Union, Third, and Atlantic avenues.

The slow zone approval — which comes two months before the Barclays Center arena opens nearby — is meant to deter drivers from using the neighborhood as a short cut to and from the East River bridges.

The plan pleases neighbors who tout the motto “twenty is plenty,” saying lower speed limits save lives.

“It’s an important safety issue — there’s been a significant amount of cut-through traffic here,” said Howard Kolins, president of the Boerum Hill Association, which formed a traffic task force to help the get the movement rolling.

The zone will be marked with hard-to-miss blue signs “at all streets entering the area,” and the city will paint the new speed limit across the roadway and use speed bumps to encourage motorists to lay off the gas, according to the city.

Neighbors put forward the proposal last year with the help of Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill), saying drivers zoom down Atlantic and Fourth avenues and make the intersections of Dean Street and Boerum Place dangerous.

The planned slow zone likely won’t include the busier border streets including Atlantic Avenue — where Levin found that 88 percent of drivers exceed the speed limit by about 10 miles per hour — because the city aims to “avoid wide, major streets, industrial and major commercial areas within the zone,” according to the Department of Transportation website.

But neighbors hope it will keep commuters and stadium traffic from flying down their brownstone blocks.

Sue Wolf, of the Boerum Hill Association, said the group plans to work with police to ensure drivers follow the rules.

“We plan to push for enforcement, especially with the arena coming,” she said.

Some neighbors hope the city extends the zone’s boundary to include State Street, she said.

Boerum Hill suffers an average of 28 car-related crash injuries per year, which is part of the reason the city approved the plan, according to a report provided the Department of Transportation. It also has “strong boundaries” and many schools and daycare centers, the report notes.

The program has been successful in other parts of town, such as the Clermont section of the Bronx, where speeding dropped dramatically after the bumps and signs went in, according the transportation officials.

The agency will now meet with neighbors to determine the location of speed bumps and other logistics before the slow zone is installed next year.

“It’s a great idea,” Wolf said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.