Tunnel vision! Plan to make Atlantic Avenue underpass safer, prettier

Tunnel vision! Plan to make Atlantic Avenue underpass safer, prettier
Photo by Bess Adler

A gloomy Atlantic Avenue underpass is getting a makeover.

The Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District won a $75,000 city grant to revamp the dreary underpass that divides Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill from Brooklyn Bridge Park and create a so-called “funderpass” adorned with murals, lighting, benches, directional signage, and even an air pump station for bicyclists.

“It will really be a game changer for Atlantic Avenue,” said Josef Szende, executive director of the merchants group. “The goal of the project is to transform the underpass into an inviting gateway linking the waterfront to Atlantic Avenue’s dynamic shops and restaurants.”

Backers of the proposal say the dreary passage-way creates a rift between the world-class green space and Atlantic Avenue’s thriving shopping community — and that’s only made worse because many pedestrians are wary of crossing a scary on-ramp heading toward the expressway near Columbia Street.

“Improving the quality of the pedestrian experience will more closely connect the surrounding communities to the available open space resources on the waterfront,” said Eric Galipo, an urban designer at Planning Corps, who helped put together the funderpass plan. “The businesses along Atlantic Avenue stand to benefit from increased pedestrian traffic from the waterfront towards Downtown.”

Merchants are in fact optimistic about a more vibrant pathway at the foot of Atlantic Avenue.

“I hope that this will aesthetically clean the underpass up and activate it so that there’s things to see and things to do,” said Nat Rubin, owner of the Moxie Spot on Atlantic Avenue and an Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District board member.

The business group was one of seven merchants associations to win a portion of the $250,000 in grant money handed out by the Department of Small Business Services.

The Atlantic Avenue funderpass design, which is still in its early stages, will be developed over the course of the next year with the help of Design Trust for Public Space.

Funderpass: The dreary underpass at the eastern end of Atlantic Avenue beneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is getting a makeover complete with wall murals, lighting, benches, directional signage, and even bike amenities.
Courtesy of Planning Corps