For several years, Sunset Park residents have voiced their concerns regarding the intersection of 38th Street and Fourth Avenue, where vehicles exit the Gowanus Expressway. It is deemed by many as dangerous due to the many accidents that have transpired there.
Sunset Park resident Peter Korsberg often observes the dangers of the intersection. “That’s a bad corner,” he said. “There is too much traffic coming off the highway and they often block the intersection because they think they can make it through before the light changes.”
On Tuesday, March 10, an accident occurred on the intersection when an FDNY ambulance that was on call collided with a vehicle exiting the Gowanus. Two days later, another accident occurred in the intersection, in which one of the cars involved started leaking gasoline, forcing the driver to jump from the car immediately. No serious injuries were reported.
This latest accidents have many pedestrians wondering if the Department of Transportation (DOT) will ever fix the problem. “Sunset Parker on Facebook has been battling DOT for over a year, trying to get them to address the dangers caused by cars and trucks exiting the Gowanus at Fourth Avenue and 38th Street,” said Tony Giordano, who runs the page. “The vehicles pay no regard to the red light and continue into the intersection, blocking the south and northbound traffic lanes.”
Added to the danger is that P.S. 24, 427 28th Street, is nearby, along with a fast food restaurant which students and locals frequently visit. “School children and their parents at the adjacent P.S. 24 have to deal with this every single morning,” stressed Giordano. “It is a very busy pedestrian intersection.”
It’s only going to get worse, according to Giordano, if the city goes forward with its plan for dealing with the quantity of traffic on the inbound Gowanus. “The plan includes vehicles exiting to Fourth Avenue to continue their drive,” he said. “To enhance this, they recently changed the morning parking so that they have created a third lane going north. This has proven to be dangerous because speeding cars use the parking lane on the right as a passing lane.”
In addition, according to Giordano, the reconfiguration of Fourth Avenue that resulted from a lengthy study conducted by DOT of the strip from Bay Ridge to Sunset Park and Park Slope did not include key elements requested by Sunset Parkers, who had taken to the streets and done their own safety study, identifying over 50 danger issues.
As a result, the community had asked the DOT to paint cross-hatching in the intersection and install signage reading “Do Not Block the Box.’
“I think the signage and street markings would be a big help,” added Korsberg. “There should also be a cop parked there during rush hour or get a traffic agent there during the morning rush to direct traffic.”
By press time, DOT had not responded to a request for comment.