Van Brunt project is stalled, but trucks are in gear on Columbia Street

Columbia Street residents are sick and tired of construction delays on neighboring Van Brunt Street that are causing traffic congestion in their sleepy corner of the world.

The stretch of Van Brunt between Degraw Street and Hamilton Avenue is designed as a two-way thoroughfare for trucks into and out of Red Hook — but the stalled reconstruction of those six blocks has resulted in an ongoing nightmare of northbound trucks on narrow, two-way Columbia Street.

“This seems like a cursed project,” said Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6, citing work that began in 2005. “There doesn’t seem to be any momentum towards getting” it done.

However, city officials showed signs of life after The Brooklyn Paper started asking questions about a possible timeline for restarting the project. As a result, construction is tentatively scheduled to restart in mid-February after soil testing on Van Brunt Street starts around the end of December. The tests must be reconducted because previous samples from three years ago have expired like a carton of milk.

City officials attribute the delays to budget issues that kept any shovels from going in the ground — still, those issues were resolved in October.

Once the battery of tests are completed and the proper permits from environmental agencies secured, the road can be fully reconstructed with new utilities, traffic signals, sidewalks and pavement.

Though a small six-block strip may seem relatively insignificant, it actually forces the much-criticized B61 bus to contend with the trucks on Columbia Street, which was the focus of the city’s initial overhaul.

For now, it appears residents have no option but to wait. Until the results of the environmental tests are completed, the construction is on hold, Hammerman said.

“Why should this corner be neglected because it’s not Seventh Avenue or Flatbush Avenue?” the exasperated district manager asked. “This isn’t just about an inconvenience, it’s about safety. It is hard for a bus and a truck to pass each other.”

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