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Road to ruin: S’head Bay Road changes confound drivers, cause traffic

Brooklyn Daily
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They say it’s an unfortunate turn of events.

Traffic changes meant to improve safety on Sheepshead Bay Road are confounding motorists and making the stretch near the subway station more dangerous, critics say. Cars backed up behind a driver who stopped in the middle of the street’s junction with Jerome Avenue on May 23. He did not mean to cause the congestion, but the Department of Transportation has made the intersection so confusing, he didn’t realize he was blocking a turn lane, he said.

“I don’t understand really what the traffic pattern is supposed to be here,” said driver Jay who declined to give a last name. “I’ve lived here for decades, since nobody is supposed to be able to go that way anyway, I’ll stay out of everybody’s way here. This is all supposed to be blocked off — you’re not supposed to be able to make a left at all.”

Haphazardly placed orange traffic barrels, which locals routinely move, are not sufficient for directing traffic, Jay said.

“Obviously they need signage,” he said. “You understand how confusing this all is.”

The department also closed E. 15th Street between Sheepshead Bay Road and Avenue Z to vehicles — all part of Mayor DeBlasio’s “Vision Zero” traffic-safety plan — so now all drivers looking to head toward Downtown take Jerome Avenue to E. 17th Street, funneling more traffic to the confusing junction Sheepshead Bay Road–Jerome Avenue and increasing the chance of crashes, said area resident Maurice Kolodin.

“All you’ve got is everybody either going into Jerome from all directions — and everybody’s playing Nascar without rules,” he said.

The city executed the changes so hastily that it must be held responsible for any injuries or accidents that occur because of them, according to a letter Kolodin and the Manhattan Beach Community Group sent to the mayor on May 16.

“This is not Vision Zero — it is zero vision!” the group wrote. “By way of this letter, the City of New York is hereby placed on notice that should any of the inhabitants of, or visitors to, this district be involved in a vehicular accident which causes property damage and/or injury and/or death within the affected area of the aforementioned roadway changes, it is my opinion that it would be reasonable for the city to be held responsible, in whole or in part.”

The Department of Transportation plans to improve the intersection of Sheepshead Bay Road and Jerome Avenue once the streets get resurfaced, which is scheduled for this week, said a spokesman.

“Additional signal and concrete improvements are planned on Sheepshead Bay Road at Jerome Avenue, pending the completion of milling and resurfacing of Sheepshead Bay Road between Avenue Z and Jerome Avenue. DOT will continue to monitor the intersection during all phases of implementa­tion,” he said.

The Mayor’s office declined to comment on the letter.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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