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BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/ file photo
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/ file photo
Sunset Parkers have requested improvements to DOT's plan for Fourth Avenue's protected bike lane.

In response to New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to provide Fourth Avenue with a parking-protected bike lane, Sunset Park residents want to have their voices heard on recommendations and concerns.

To that end, after reviewing the plans, Sunset Park Restoration and the Sunset Parker Facebook page, which has nearly 10,000 members, forwarded a list of 11 items to the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC), elected officials, and Community Boards 6 and 7.

The protected bike lane plan includes shaving some space off the median and shifting it to the sides of the roadway. Two travel lanes would  be slightly narrower. It also calls for adding pedestrian refuge islands, and the removal of some parking for islands and loading zones as well as narrowing wide parking lanes with lost width possibly impacting traffic lanes, and the addition of landscaping on islands.

The list of recommendations includes creating a bus turning lane for making westerly turns on 36th Street, signage informing pedestrians about redirected buses in multiple languages, community contact with DOT during construction and more.

“Our comments to the plan came from a page-by-page review of the released engineering plans which we understand are in preparation for asking for bids by contractors for the work involved.  Much of the work involves altering the center median, upgrades and repairs to sewer pipes, plantings and painted signage on the roadway,” said Tony Giordano, the founder of Sunset Parker. “We couldn’t post the actual pages and there was no summary to share, so we had to make recommendations to our membership online and seek their input and review. We understand that these plans were not really meant for general community review and comment.”

Photo courtesy of New York City Department of Transportation

Although members weren’t asked to rank which recommendations were most significant, Giordano discussed what’s on the top of his list.

“Personally, I would say the protected bike lane in the areas of 17th, 18th and 59th Streets need to be explained better to the stakeholders,” he said. “Additionally, we believe now is the time to put turning lanes at each intersection, whether the city intends to permit turning or not, so that the lack of the turning lane doesn’t end the discussion for 40 years until the next reconstruction of medians. Without a turning lane, anytime a vehicle wishes to turn left, the two lanes of Fourth Avenue become only one lane. And if anyone is double parked, it will bring all Fourth Avenue traffic to a total halt.”

Another major issue is changes to the sewers, Giordano said.

“A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity exists with this project to take serious steps to separate rain water from raw sewage,” according to the list. “Fourth Avenue is a natural collection point for rain water from as far away as Sixth Avenue. During heavy rains, Fourth Avenue more resembles a river than a roadway. We ask that during the sewer pipe phase of this project, plans are created and executed to divert rainwater from Fourth Avenue directly into the nearby bay.”

Giordano is especially proud of this recommendation.

“It shows that we Sunset Parkers are looking at the bigger picture,” he said. “Putting in pipes now, under Fourth Avenue, would be a cost-effective way to run rain water straight into the bay so that our dirty sewage can still be treated. We don’t expect to win this argument, but it needs to be raised.”

Safety also must be addressed, according to the group.

“Along Fourth Avenue, in Sunset Park, there are several tire repair shops, at least two car washes and numerous gas stations and auto repair shops,” the list also reads. “We ask for DOT to initiate an inter-agency task force to inform these use sites of the coming changes and then vigilantly address activities from these businesses that endanger cyclists.”

CB 7 approved the proposal in January.

“We are hoping for their support and/or input in the process which ends in about two weeks,” Giordano said. “We have had no response at all from the community boards nor elected officials – but it is early.”

Assistant Press Secretary for DOT Lolita Avila told this paper, “DOT is aware of community concerns and will review options based on safety and feasibility.”

For a full list of the suggestions, visit www.churchroad.wixsite.com/sprc/2018-4th-ave-median-reconstruction.

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