Truck route bout: Big rigs may change lanes in Greenwood Heights

Truck route bout: Big rigs may change lanes in Greenwood Heights
Community Newspaper Group / Derrick Lytle

The city says it will fix a much-loathed Greenwood Heights truck route by moving big rigs to other streets — but some residents say the plan is a trucking nightmare.

Traffic engineers are considering converting 20th Street — a major two-way trucking artery between Third and Seventh avenues — into a one-way street and rerouting tractor trailers traveling in one direction onto Prospect Avenue, 21st Street, or 22nd Street under a plan intended to ease traffic and make the roadway safer.

The proposal might reduce truck traffic on 20th Street, but residents and businesses on now-quiet 21st Street say they don’t want to see their front yard become a dangerous mini-freeway.

“The last thing we need are trucks blowing through here,” said Michael Mendoza, general manager of Toby’s Public House on 21st Street and Sixth Avenue. “We’ve got tables outside — and kids running around.”

Trucks could still use 20th Street to drive east-bound toward the Prospect Expressway, but those heading toward the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway would take Seventh Avenue before turning onto Prospect Avenue, 21st Street, or 22nd Streets, according to a Department of Transportation study made at the request of Community Board 7.

“I just see them moving a problem from one street to another,” said Dan Bono. “One street will be slightly less noisy and the other will be slightly more noisy instead of one very noisy street and one very quiet street now. Whether that’s an improvement I don’t know.”

For some 20th Street residents who are sick of the sound of rumbling of tires, the sight of clipped car mirrors, and the smell of diesel exhaust, any reduction in trucking is a big win.

“It makes sense — we’ve suffered enough dealing with all of these trucks,” said 20th Street resident Alan Goldfarb.

Greenwood Heights dwellers who live along the trucking viaduct have long complained about their noisy road — claiming the street is simply too narrow to accommodate a parade of 18-wheelers traveling between the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the Prospect Expressway.

“It’s a great idea because there’s a lot of accidents, a lot of cars get hit and their mirrors get taken off,” said 20th Street’s Angelica Severino.

But some 20th Street residents fear the city’s plan might actually make things worse.

Per Hoffman, a landlord on the street, said making the road one-way won’t quiet noisy morning traffic — which tends to begin around 5 am, heading east. Instead, he fears a less-constricted roadway would lead to more reckless driving and noise.

“By turning it into a one-way you’re actually making it a more enticing spot to speed,” Hoffman said.

The Department of Transportation will unveil more details of the proposal at a May 30 Community Board 7 meeting, where it will consider neighbors’ feedback before making a decision.

— with Derrick Lytle

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.