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DOT gets $25M for Vision Zero projects

The city will be receiving $25 million in federal Department of Transportation grants towards addressing the area around 13 schools and thoroughfares deemed “high-risk” under Vision Zero.

Affected neighborhoods in Brooklyn include Bay Ridge, Gowanus, Park Slope, Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace, according to the mayor’s office.

Specifically, the northern section of Fourth Avenue between Eighth and 18th Streets, the southern portion of Fourth Avenue between 33rd and 52ndStreets, and the Brooklyn Greenway bike paths in Gowanus and Owl’s Head Park will benefit.

“This investment will save lives [and] means better designed streets and targeted initiatives that will help us change behaviors like speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Other affected locales include the vicinity of schools in Harlem, Queens and Staten Island, as well as Metro-North’s Harlem Station.

“We are very happy with these grants and we are looking forward to the community getting involved and sharing its opinions before design work is done,” said Jeremy Laufer, district manager at Community Board 7.

“The first phase for implementation between 33rd to 47th Street would be in 2017,” noted Laufer, “so I would hope that before the end of next year [in 2015] that we’d get to discussing that.”

The second phase pertains to the stretch of Fourth Avenue between Eighth and 18th Streets.

“I’m really appreciative of this, particularly for the Fourth Avenue, where I know the city was looking for capital funds to extend the median,” said Gene Aronowitz, a Sunset Park resident who often advocates on behalf of seniors, including as a volunteer with Councilmember Carlos Menchaca’s office.

“Older people who have trouble getting across the street often use the median – which I call the pedestrian refuge island – between lights,” Aronowitz said. “This is essential and it is really going to save lives.”

However, not everyone is pleased with the developments on Fourth Avenue.

“We believe that the city DOT is moving too rapidly to make their Fourth Avenue traffic improvements permanent,” said advocacy group Sunset Park Restoration in a statement that applauded existing improvements to pedestrian safety, but requested another year of study in order “to offset concerns that last winter was one of the worst winters in history and may have skewed the data.”

As for the Greenway changes, Aronowitz – an avid cyclist who regularly uses the bike path at Owl’s Head – noted that “there’s no Greenway path at the moment until you get to Owl’s Head” and “a lot of work has gone into [extending it], so it’s great that it’s getting support.”

The funds are coming from the U.S. DOT’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program.

According to city Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, another grant was also received targeting Rockaways housing recovery efforts.

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