Talk about a hard left.
The Department of Transportation tried to take a page out of the New Jersey play book last week by instituting a jug handle traffic pattern where Flatbush Avenue Extension hits Myrtle Avenue coming off the Manhattan Bridge, banning left turns towards Fort Greene and requiring motorists looking to head that way turn right into a horseshoe-shaped MetroTech Center service road instead. But a visit last Friday showed barely anybody paying attention to the new ban on left turns, with only a handful taking the boomerang right as a steady stream lined up for the left every signal cycle. That afternoon’s mass motorized disobedience coupled with a shortened left-turn light, meant to be for buses only, created long backups in the left lane.
The jug handle scheme is common in the Garden State but unheard of in Kings County, until now. A local business booster said that she anticipates a learning curve.
“It’ll take some time for drivers to get used to it,” said Meredith Phillips Almeida, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership.
The problems are not for lack of signage. A temporary electronic sign announces the traffic pattern change a block before the intersection; the new left-turn lane says it is for buses only; and signs just in front of and at the intersection spell out the restriction again.
A Department of Transportation spokeswoman said the agency is working with the Police Department to figure out how best to enforce the new rules.
Complaints about difficulty crossing the street at Myrtle Avenue and regularly backed-up traffic on Flatbush Avenue Extension precipitated the change, according to the roads agency. The department also said the intersection is dangerous, having seen 110 injuries from accidents between 2008 and 2012.
Another visit on Tuesday morning showed the city has apparently taken note of the driver discord as a traffic cop was stationed in the roadway. On Wednesday, a transportation department worker was handing out flyers about the change.