Ch-ch-changes coming to Fourth Avenue

Fourth Avenue and 86th Street may be the hottest intersection in the city, with proposed changes coming from three different entities: The Department of Transportation (DOT), New York City Transit (TA) and the Fourth Avenue Task Force. And that has raised some concerns, with some local activists worried that the left hand may be making changes without taking into account what the right hand is doing.

“Someone has got to stop the compartmentalizing,” contended Community Board 10 member Allen Bortnick at the board’s April meeting. “They are not thinking, and they are going to create problems that are monumental, created blockages and backups.”

“They are definitely making plans that are overlapping,” added Bob HuDock, chair of the board’s Environmental Committee, as members debated a proposal to shift the location of bus stops put forth by the TA.

The first proposal on the table is the lane reconfiguration of 86th Street between Fourth Avenue and Shore Road. DOT unveiled a plan in December to reduce the number of traffic lanes in each direction between Shore Road and Fourth Avenue — one lane instead of two — and ban left turns from Fourth Avenue westward onto 86th Street.

“The intersection of Fourth Avenue and 86th Street had some of the highest number of pedestrian accidents citywide,” said Josephine Beckmann, CB 10’s district manager. “We felt…the problem on Fourth Avenue relates to bus traffic. Thirty percent of pedestrian accidents happen mid-block. Lots are being caused by people running to catch a bus or a train.”

That goes hand-in-hand with the next proposal, involving alterations to the S79 bus route. Although most of the changes are on Staten Island, one major modification includes the block of Fourth Avenue between 86th and 87th Streets.

“The entire length of the east side of Fourth Avenue going northbound will be changed as a layover first stop/last stop on the route,” Beckmann explained. “DOT said there would be too many buses with the B1, so they proposed taking three parking spaces on 87th Street to accommodate a layover area for the B1 bus.”

That means that the B1 will no longer stop on Fourth Avenue – it will let off passengers on 87th Street and pick them up at the bus stop that it will share with the B16 on 86th Street off of Fourth Avenue. But this has raised some concerns. “Lots of board members said, ‘We didn’t look at this with the reconfiguration of 86th Street,’” Beckmann noted.

And that’s not all. “At the same time there is a larger Fourth Avenue Task Force going on,” Beckmann said. “At the next board meeting, we want to have all three entities in the same room to best assess the changes – what will help and what won’t help.”

The next Community 10 general board meeting will take place on Monday, May 21 at 7:15 p.m. at the Norwegian Christian Home, located at 1250 67th Street.

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