Bay Ridge’s Third Avenue proposed as a truck route, but locals remain reluctant

The mayor is looking to turn Bay Ridge’s Third Avenue into a truck route
The proposed truck routes in Bay Ridge are highlighted in green.
NYC Department of Transportation

The mayor is looking to turn Bay Ridge’s Third Avenue into a truck route, which would divert big rigs away from other nearby streets and funnel them to the nabe’s commercial corridor.

“Rebuilding a cleaner, fairer, and greener city means rethinking the way trucks move through our streets. As more goods than ever flow through our city, it’s time for a smart, thoughtful freight management approach that keeps our communities safe and livable,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio on May 13 during “Streets Week.” 

The route — which would run from 65th Street to 86th Street — comes as part of Hizzoner’s Delivering New York plan to optimize the city’s freight network, which he claims will benefit residential corridors throughout New York City.     

“’Delivering New York’ charts a path toward a future with fewer and smaller trucks, which will ease congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect our infrastructure.”

When officially transformed, the route will be the southern Brooklyn neighborhood’s first “local” truck route that runs north-and-south, as its two others — on 65th and 86th streets — run east to west. The plan also includes additional local truck routes nearby on Second Avenue from 39th to 58th Street, as well as along New Utrecht Avenue in Dyker Heights. 

Compared to other trucking paths, local routes service vehicles traveling within the borough, rather than using Brooklyn as a gateway to destinations outside Kings County.   

The new route will extend the already-existing Third Avenue path that runs from Atlantic Avenue in Park Slope and ends on 65th Street in Sunset Park. 

The area community board’s district manager urged decision-makers to take note that Third Avenue in Bay Ridge is much narrower than it is in the northern nabes, where there are three lanes going in each direction as opposed to in the southerly neighborhood, where there is one lane traveling each way. 

“Our streets are narrow,” Josephine Beckmann told Brooklyn Paper. “I say this all the time, our Third Avenue is different than Sunset Park’s Third Avenue. You have three lanes of moving traffic versus one lane in each direction.” 

Beckmann questioned whether transportation officials examined the recent launch of outdoor dining across the city, as well as on Bay Ridge’s Third Avenue — suggesting the combination of large trucks, narrow streets, and outdoor dining setups budding into the roadway could cause a safety hazard. 

“Was the study done before outdoor dining,” she said. “The concern is about large trucks traversing Third Avenue with a lot of the new outdoor dining seating spaces and safety. I think there is a lot more concerns right on the surface before even going into greater detail.” 

The avenue is also home to the annual “Summer Strolls,” a recurring event during the warm season when the thoroughfare is closed to traffic to allow local businesses to set up shop on the street, and it’s unclear how city officials will accommodate both the beloved summer event and truck traffic.

But a representative from the city Department of Transportation said that working with closed-off streets is not something new to the agency — citing the rise of the Open Streets initiative and its predecessor, the Weekend Walks program. 

Why Third Avenue?

It is also unclear why the local truck route along Third Avenue is found to be necessary, but Beckmann suspects the proposed designation stems from a 2019 study recommending the conversion of First and Second avenues from two-way roads to one-ways going in opposite directions between 39th and 58th streets in Sunset Park.

“The board reviewed the Environmental Development Corporation’s one-way conversion plan on first and second avenues we were kind of concerned about changes to local truck routes in Bay Ridge impacted by that, and I think that is tied to this proposal,” she told Brooklyn Paper. 

At the time, the members of Community Board 10, and neighboring Community Board 7 where the project was proposed, fielded a number of complaints about the proposal, with many Bay Ridgites raising worries about heightened truck traffic on their residential roads funneling from Sunset Park. 

“We certainly did express concerns back in 2019 about pushing local truck traffic onto local streets,” Beckmann said, “which is a big change.”

While the details are yet to be hashed out, local City Councilmember Justin Brannan blasted the plan, saying it was “dead on arrival.” 

“As far as we’re concerned, this proposal is dead on arrival,” said Brannan. “We are not going to let City Hall put a truck route on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge. I don’t wanna hear it.”

A representative from the mayor’s office said as the plan is not concrete, they look forward to hearing from the community to make the proposal work best for Bay Ridge. 

“The proposal is undergoing rulemaking now, which involves a notice and public comment period,” said Mitch Schwartz. “So nothing’s final yet. Looking forward to hearing community feedback and finalizing a plan that works for everyone.”