Possibly the worst thing about living in Brooklyn — the debilitating traffic congestion on the Brooklyn Bridge’s entrance ramp from the southbound FDR Drive — may be getting just a little bit better.
The state Department of Transportation announced this week that it will make cosmetic changes to the frustrating exit ramp from the FDR onto the fabled span — initially paint and new signage, but, eventually, a wideing of the ramp to two lanes so it can better handle the traffic.
“That’s the five-year project,” said state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights), who said he was pleased that the long-term plan will widen a ramp that sometimes backs up as far as the Manhattan Bridge, encouraging [expletive deleted] drivers to cut in at the last minute.
That ramp — which officially bears the name of Ari Halberstam, the 14-year-old Hasidic boy who was killed when a gunman opened fire on the roadway in 1994 — is “nothing short of infuriating,” Squadron added in the understatement of the year.
For now, the first-term lawmaker got a commitment from state DOT to make immediate superficial improvements, including new paint on all lane markers, making them easier to read and clearer about when the merge is approaching; two repetitions of the words “EXIT ONLY,” to discourage cutting; and replacing the current sign that reads, “Bklyn-Battery Tunnel” with a new sign that reads, “Exit 1 / Battery Pk / Staten Is Ferry.”
“It will be clearer for people and for the police to do enforcement,” Squadron said.
When reminded that catching cheaters at that entrance ramp would be as easy as handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500, Squadron pointed out that the current lane markers aren’t as clear as they could be.
“There is one point where it says ‘Do not cross solid line,’ but it’s not solid at that point,” he said. “We all know that the long-term solution is a two-lane exit — and that’s going to happen.”
There isn’t a Brooklyn driver who hasn’t been caught in traffic at that ramp, though at least one motorist said Squadron’s “powder and paint” won’t help the problem.
“When it’s a two-lane exit, fine,” said driver Jen Frayne. “But they’ve put down paint before. People still cut in, penalizing those of us who play by the rules. The only way to stop it is to put a cop on the ramp all day long.”
That said, there is some recent research that suggests that late mergers do not, in fact, slow down traffic, despite other drivers’ frustration.