The state must put the brakes on a plan to ban turns on portions of Ocean Parkway, drivers are demanding.
Gov. Cuomo announced $8.5 million in upgrades to the busy road between the Prospect Expressway and Belt Parkway this past spring — including improved pedestrian ramps, crosswalks, and traffic signals. But the plan also forbids drivers form turning onto Avenues J, P, and Kings Highway or making left-hand turns onto Avenues I and U as a safety measure — instead requiring motorists to make the turns from the parkway’s service road.
Local leaders organized a protest on Sunday, claiming that sending cars onto the service road will backfire by exacerbating traffic and putting more people in harm’s way.
“It will create havoc,” said Assembly Dov Hikind (D–Midwood), who organized the protest. “If you want to make that right turn, you have to get off a block before and go onto the service road, which is a narrower street with cars parked on both sides and school buses. When do we create a service road and turn it into a highway? We’re making things less safe, because we’re sending more traffic to the service road with synagogues, schools on all of these streets. This is nuts.”
But the state contends its plan will improve safety — the thoroughfare is actually three roads in one counting the service roads, and throwing an intersection into the mix makes a dozen chances for a crash, according to a spokeswoman from the state.
Public Advocate Tish James joined the protest and is demanding the state review the project before its slated completion date of fall 2017.
“Whenever we embark on major infrastructure projects, we must ensure we listen to the concerns of the community. There is a way to make Ocean Parkway safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers and we must do it with the input of New Yorkers who use the road on a regular basis,” said James. “Government works best when it listens to the people, and that’s what we need right now.”
But the state already reviewed the proposal — it was thoroughly analyzed and thoughtfully planned — and has no plans to delay the work, a spokesman said.
“DOT is meeting with community leaders on this issue. Safety is our top priority and we look forward to a productive conversation,” said Gary Holmes.
The state is also replacing the service road’s stop signs with traffic lights to more tightly control the flow of cars and sync up the traffic on both streets, according to the plan.