Commuters were left stranded when heavy winds forced the closure of the upper level of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge March 26.
All upper lanes between Brooklyn and Staten Island were closed at 7 p.m. and NYC Emergency Management told drivers to consider alternate routes. The bridge fully reopened at around 9:15 p.m., but severe delays continued.
Pat Roman said her regular 20-minute commute took five hours and 44 minutes. She took side streets to avoid the Belt Parkway and ended up stuck for three and a half hours on Fourth Avenue and 91st Street.
“It was disheartening to know that we were stranded with no communication and no consideration for anyone’s needs,” Roman said. “I saw elderly people sitting on buses next to me stranded with nowhere to go for hours.”
“Something needs to change,” said Jennifer Jansen, who had a similar experience. “God forbid there’s an emergency, we’re all screwed. We were stuck on blocks for 30 minutes at a time. People were blocking intersections. It was nuts.”
A Brooklyn-bound S79 rider said the driver let passengers get out at Fourth Avenue and 92nd Street rather than wait to reach 86th Street.
“I walked from 92nd to 86th and counted 35 buses backed up in traffic going in the direction of the bridge,” he said.
Commuters also noted an absence of traffic cops at crowded intersections.
Councilmember Justin Brannan wrote a letter to the MTA demanding a contingency plan for when bridges are closed.
“The closure had a ripple effect that turned residential and commercial streets in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights into parking lots,” he wrote. “It’s dangerous for everyone and creates situations where first responders and emergency vehicles may not be able to get where they need to go.”