Changes proposed for 86th Street

To say that the intersection at Fourth Avenue and 86th Street isa busy one is something of an understatement.

The area is a hub of activity for thousands of commuters andshoppers from across Brooklyn and Staten Island, with buses, trainsand cars bringing ever-increasing foot traffic into the area. Butwhat is good for the local economy is not necessarily good forpublic safety, say analysts with the city’s Department ofTransportation (DOT), which is proposing to address thisconcern.

The DOT proposal, unveiled at the December meeting of CommunityBoard 10’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, aims to improvepedestrian safety by reducing speeding, improving pedestriancrosswalks and managing traffic flow.

To do this, the agency wants to reduce the number of travellanes in each direction between Shore Road and Fourth Avenue – onelane instead of two in each direction – and ban left turns fromFourth Avenue westward onto 86th Street.

We’re taking away roadway width, but it’s still a 60-foot-widestreet, so there is still room to park or double-park and goaround, said DOT representative Ann Marie Dougherty, who attendedthe December 15 meeting to answer questions from the board andcommunity members.

Double-parking is a particular concern for parents of studentswho attend school along the 86th Street strip, particularly aroundRidge Boulevard, where Adelphi Academy, P.S. 185 and SteppingStones Nursery School are located, pointed out by parent StefaniaVasquenz and CB 10 board member Liz Amato, who said they werecautiously optimistic about the DOT’s plans.

It was nice seeing the changes [and I’m looking at it]positively, said Amato. There’s a lot of pressure to change theuniqueness of Bay Ridge, so we’re trying to promote safety whilekeeping the community [feel]. Every day I drive up Ridge Boulevardand it’s always double-parked… Community residents need to comeand attend [future] meetings and let their opinions be heard.

The DOT offered two versions of proposed changes. Currently,there is an 11-footmoving lane and a 19-foot combinedparking/moving lane going in either direction on 86th Street.Version A proposes keeping the moving lane while shortening thecombined lane to 13 feet, adding a 12-foot turn bay/flushmedian/island in the center. Version B proposes an eight-foot turnbay/flush median/island in the center, next to an 11-foot movinglane, a five-foot bike lane, and a 10-foot parking-only rightlane.

The possibility of a bike lane being added along 86th Streetconnecting the Shore Road bike path to a point closer to SeventhAvenue was included in Version B because the strip’s width makes itideal for it, according to CB 10 member George Fontas,particularly since such a lane was nixed for Bay Ridge Parkway inOctober.

Whatever happens, Doris Cruz is certain that community memberswill work together to communicate a shared set of goals to the DOTin the coming months. I got a positive feeling in the room thatcertain issues [we care about and need] will be addressed, saidCruz, who serves as the committee chair.

The intersection is currently listed as a High Crash Corridor ranking in the77th percentile for injuries per mile in Brooklyn. Fourth Avenueand Third Avenue is also a Tier 1 intersection of the highestconcern in CB10’s Pedestrian Safety Conditions report.

CB 10 will hold a public hearing in the coming months, likely inearly spring, to give residents and business owners the chance tolearn more about the DOT proposals and give their opinions. Theboard will then vote on whether or not to support the DOT plan,which if approved, could begin in summer, 2012.

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