Traffic jams on busy Bath Avenue are going to be getting some much needed attention from the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), according to Bath Beach leaders.
Community Board 11 officials said Councilmember Justin Brannan, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and parts of Bensonhurst, is setting up a meeting with DOT and the community board to take a in-depth look at the problem and work to come up with solutions.
Brannan confirmed that he has asked DOT to take a look at the avenue and that a meeting with agency officials and CB 11 leaders would likely take place within the next week or two. “The whole corridor,” needs to be studied, Brannan told this newspaper via email.
Bath Avenue is a commercial corridor that sees a large volume of traffic on weekdays. The avenue also serves as the route for the B64 bus, which operates between Bay Ridge and Coney Island.
But the traffic moves slowly, sometimes coming to a crawl, especially along the section of the avenue that runs from 17th Avenue to Bay Parkway, according to Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant, pastor of Saint Finbar Catholic Church, who attended a CB 11 meeting on Sept. 14 and urged the board to take action.
St. Finbar Church is located at 138 Bay 20th St., between Bath and Benson avenues. The church’s parish hall is located on Bath Avenue.
“The buses can’t get down Bath Avenue,” Gelfant told the board.
Gelfant blamed the traffic tie-ups on drivers who double-park their cars all along the avenue. He also pointed out that the 62nd Precinct, located at 1925 Bath Avenue, draws a lot of traffic, and that there are several schools located in the vicinity, all of which add to the traffic congestion with parents dropping off and picking up their children.
“The issue we have here is congestion. It’s really not safe. I want to know what we’re going to do to fix this,” Gelfant said.
CB 11 Chairperson William Guarinello added another factor to the list of reasons for the traffic congestion: illegal curb cuts.
Illegal curb cuts have a cascading effect on the community, according to Guarinello, who said that homeowners who cut the curbs in front of their houses to create private driveways without obtaining permits from the city are removing on-street parking spots from the neighborhood.
With fewer parking spots, drivers often opt to double park, Guarinello said. “You come on many blocks, there’s no parking,” he added.
Guarinello said traffic congestion on Bath Avenue is nothing new and that the community board tried in the past to get DOT to do something about it. “It’s not for lack of us trying. DOT has rejected us outright,” he said.
In June, the community board sent a letter to the New York Police Department asking the NYPD to scout the area around the 62nd Precinct for possible sites for off-street parking for cops.
The streets surrounding the precinct station house are so jammed with cars that it’s hard for cops to find parking spaces when they arrive to begin their shift, Guarinello said.
A DOT spokesperson told this newspaper that the agency is sympathetic to the concerns of Bath Beach residents and plans to meet with Brannan, local officials and police to discuss possible solutions.