Turn for the worse: Drivers ignoring Ocean Parkway ‘safety’ changes

Turn for the worse: Drivers ignoring Ocean Parkway ‘safety’ changes
Photo by Steven Schnibbe

Gov. Cuomo’s “safety improvements” to Ocean Parkway are causing more harm than good, residents and pols say.

The state, which controls the parkway, has banned turns onto Avenues J, Avenue P, and Kings Highway — as well as making left-hand turns onto Avenues I and U — as part of $8.5-million safety overhaul, but drivers are simply ignoring the changes, said local photographer Simon Gifter.

“People are making illegal turns — there are near-crashes. It’s just a horror what I saw,” said Gifter, who regularly tweets about traffic issues in the area.

To make matters worse, workers rebuilding the parkway’s pedestrian path as part of Cuomo’s project are allowing the bad behavior — a hard-hat can be seen encouraging rush-hour motorists who are disobeying a no-turn sign, video shot on Jan. 10 shows.

The city opposed the project, but Gov. Cuomo overruled his rival Mayor DeBlasio and went forward with the unpopular plan.

The State Department of Transportation, which is spearheading the project, banned turning directly off of the parkway so that drivers would jog over to the service road before turning, but now through-commuters are getting caught behind delivery vehicles on the road meant for drop-offs and idling, according to Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D–Midwood), an opponent of the plan who organized a rally against the project last month.

“A Hatzolah vehicle was parked in the middle of the road for a half-hour. This is a typical situation. Every time there’s a few delivery or sanitation vehicles, anytime they are in the service road, no one can move. Never understood how someone could say sending traffic to a service road is a good thing,” he said.

The state also replaced stop signs with traffic lights at six different intersections along the service road, so instead of drivers stopping at every corner and checking both ways, they are zooming through lights while others are making illegal turns from Ocean Parkway onto the service road, making it even more dangerous for motorists and pedestrians alike, said Marissa Anteby, who lives off of the roadway.

“Now that there’s not a stop sign, they have a green light, there’s no longer that checks and balance — just going through a green light and people are now disobeying no turning right,” she said. “They are not stopping at the corner, making a potential for collisions.”

Police are aware of the issue and monitoring the situation, a department spokesman said.

The state is also keeping tabs on the situation via video cameras that it installed at affected intersections, according to a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman, who added that the cameras will not be used for enforcement.

“As part of our commitment to the community and to address concerns that were raised, the New York State Department of Transportation is monitoring each signal as it comes online to ensure the continued safety of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists,” said Diane Park. “These cameras are part of that effort. These cameras are being used exclusively for monitoring purposes only. They are not capturing any information related to vehicle plate numbers or driver identification.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.