Plans by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to ban left-hand turns at one busy Bensonhurst intersection and right-hand turns at another are raising concerns among Community Board 11 officials, who said the new restrictions might create more traffic problems than they solve.
Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia said DOT’s plan to prohibit drivers from making left-hand turns at 86th Street and Stillwell Avenue will have “a ripple effect” on traffic because motorists approaching Stillwell Avenue to shop in stores there will be forced to circumnavigate around the intersection.
As a result, drivers will likely be approaching Stillwell Avenue from another direction and will be making left-hand turns across the double yellow line in the street to pull into stores like Petco at 2601 Stillwell Ave. and eateries like John’s Deli at 2033 Stillwell Ave., Elias-Pavia said. While it’s perfectly legal to cross a double yellow line when pulling into a driveway, Elias-Pavia said the scenario would probably cause traffic tie-ups.
A second DOT plan to prohibit drivers traveling eastbound on 86th Street from making right-hand turns onto Avenue U is also problematic, according to Elias-Pavia. “It will push dangerous behavior. It will push traffic onto Avenue T bike lanes,” she said.
Board 11 recently sent a letter to DOT outlining its concerns about the plans.
A DOT spokesperson said the agency takes the community board’s input seriously. “We are aware of the concerns and look forward to reviewing the community board’s letter,” the spokesperson told this newspaper via email on Wednesday.
The turning bans are part of DOT’s School Safety Improvements on 86th Street, a multi-faceted project aimed at increasing safety for pedestrians and drivers along the 86th Street corridor running from Stillwell Avenue to Shell Road/McDonald Avenue.
The corridor runs through three Brooklyn community boards, 11, 13 and 15. DOT officials offered presentations of the plans to all three boards in February. Board 11 covers Bensonhurst and Bath Beach. Board 13 includes parts of Gravesend and Coney Island and Board 15 covers Sheepshead Bay and includes parts of Gravesend.
DOT has labeled 86th Street a “priority corridor” in line for major for adjustments due to its proximity to several schools, including the Lafayette Educational Campus, Big Apple Academy, Coney Island Prep High School and John Dewey High School. Thousands of students travel through the area on their way to and from classes on weekdays.
Between 2012 and 2016, accidents along 86th Street resulted in 135 injures and 11 severe injuries, according to DOT. Thirty-one percent of those injuries were suffered by pedestrians.
Under the plan, DOT is going to extend curbs by painting lines out into the street at several locations to shorten the distance for pedestrians crossing the roadway. The agency will also paint “slip lane closures” at some locations as a way of extending sidewalks for pedestrians.
The safety improvement plan includes creating left-turn bays at 15 locations so that drivers turning left and motorists driving straight aren’t sharing the same lane. Drivers making left-hand turns often tie-up traffic and feel pressure to hurry from motorists trying to proceed straight, according to DOT. And drivers going straight sometimes try to go around the motorists who are turning, creating potential dangers.
Another part of the plan involves creating bike lanes. Currently, bike riders share the same lanes as motor vehicles.
Eddie Mark, district manager of Board 13, said his board had no objections to the plan.”DOT listened to us. They took our suggestions,” he told this newspaper. “Of course we won’t know the full impact until they put it in. But the board doesn’t have objections right now.”
Board 13 was mainly concerned about traffic on 86th Street and West Eighth Street near the Marlboro Houses, Mark said. DOT will paint curb extensions and slip lane closures and create a loading zone there to mitigate concerns.
Board 15 officials did not return phone calls from this newspaper by press time.
To read DOT’s full plan, visit: https://on.nyc.gov/2JLw9vd.