Just as an online petition to keep Kent Avenue a two-way street has been circulating throughout Williamsburg e-mail groups, Department of Transportation (DOT) officials quietly announced that two sections of Kent Avenue would be converted to northbound-only streets.
According to a DOT spokesperson, construction is scheduled to begin on August 17, when transportation workers will be milling and resurfacing a stretch of Kent Avenue between Clymer Street and Broadway.This section will be converted to a northbound lane by August 28.Similar changes will occur in September on Kent Avenue from Broadway to North 14th Street.
The DOT spokesperson indicated the agency will be responding to neighborhood concerns regarding truck traffic by directing drivers to the designated truck routes in Williamsburg, but did not address a recent petition to keep Kent Avenue two-way.
The petition, which proposes keeping Kent Avenue two-way with only one bike lane, has set off a chain reaction of e-mail responses, both positive and negative, on the Community Board 1 listserv last week. As of August 17, 172 people had signed the online petition in support of the proposal.
The petition sharply criticizes the rerouting of truck traffic on the largely residential North 11th Street, adjacent to Automotive High School and McCarren Park, while also urging that the second bike lane should be moved to Wythe or Driggs avenues.
“Make it clear that a one-way Kent Avenue (with a closed southbound lane) is not the way to accommodate the Greenway safely,” said Meredith Chesney, who introduced the petition to the CB1 listserv. “While the DOT may be working hard at changes to the re-design for their plans; let us be clear to them how far off the mark they are, if they don’t scrap any plans to implement a one-way route at this time.”
CB 1 Transportation Chair Teresa Toro blamed the DOT for refusing repeated requests from the community to lead a broad transportation study for Williamsburg, addressing how traffic moves through the entire area instead of making changes street by street.
“From a transportation planning perspective, the 2005 rezoning represents a significant failure on the city’s part, particularly regarding truck traffic, as the administration converted industrial areas to residential with no hard look at existing truck routes or truck traffic management,” said Toro.
Not everyone is upset with the DOT’s changes to Kent Avenue.Williamsburg resident Leo Moskowitz praised the DOT’s effort to restore parking spaces to a stretch of Kent Avenue in South Williamsburg where he lives.
“I think it’s a win-win-win,” said Moskowitz.“Bikers will have their bike lane, business owners will have their loading docks, and residents will have their parking.The parking would be a buffer zone for bikers and the roadway.”