The city has removed a controversial set of concrete islands on Fort Hamilton Parkway in Borough Park, bowing to demands of residents who claimed the devices would cost lives by slowing down ambulances en route to Maimonides Medical Center during emergencies.
On Wednesday, workers from the Department of Transportation used back-hoes to break up the center-lane slabs that were installed between 46th and 47th streets less than a year ago.
“The neighborhood and store owners are celebrating,” said Wolf Sender, district manager of Community Board 12. “It was a mess. Bakery trucks were parking on the sidewalk. A lot of people were upset.”
Department of Transportation spokesman Seth Solomonow did not respond to questions about the reversal, but suggested only that it was part of a larger redesign that will to add left turn lanes between 37th and 61st streets.
The roadwork represented a rare reversal of a so-called “traffic-calming” policy by an agency that has heralded its new pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly management of the cityscape.
As part of that effort, Mayor Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, have installed bike lanes, center-lane planters, bollards, street corner “neckdowns,” and other traffic-calming devices throughout Brooklyn, angering many locals. Along Prospect Park West in Park Slope, the city ignored some local objection and removed a lane of car traffic to install a two-way protected bike path.
So when residents complained about the Fort Hamilton Parkway islands, many thought their concerns would be ignored.
“I’m shocked that they actually reversed themselves, but it’s about time,” said Allen Bortnick, a member of Bay Ridge’s Community Board 10. “All they were doing was taking away lanes, blocking traffic — and they don’t care. If they got you walking, they were happy.”
But this time, the protestors got action.
“They realized they made a mistake,” said Sender. “It’s surprising.”