With Ocean Parkway consistently being named one of the most dangerous roadways in the city, elected officials, civic leaders, and other residents agree something needs to be done to address the litany of serious safety concerns plaguing the corridor.
What, exactly, the answer to this problem is has yet to be seen, but a number of ideas – from creating mid-block crossings to implementing speed display boards and upgrading traffic signage – were floated at Assemblyman Jim Brennan’s meeting Monday evening on creating a safer Ocean Parkway.
Along with Brennan, representatives from the state and city Department of Transportation, as well as other city officials and civic leaders, attended the meeting, held at Ditmas IS 62. The state DOT is currently conducting a study of a portion of Ocean Parkway that spans a number of intersections along the corridor, including Avenue C, Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Avenue, Avenue I, Avenue J, Avenue P, Kings Highway, and Avenue U.
“These are ideas we feel are possible to implement on the corridor and make it safer,” Sonia Pichardo, a regional director at the state DOT, told residents gathered in the school’s auditorium. “It is a beautiful boulevard, but there is a lot of traffic with a lot of pedestrian crossings. Schools are nearby; senior centers are nearby.”
Residents have long aired safety concerns about Ocean Parkway, and the city recently released a report detailing the 20 worst intersections in the five boroughs - of which Ocean Parkway and Church Avenue was one. There have been a series of fatalities along the busy roadway, including the death of Patricia Ngozi Agbim, a 73-year-old neighbor who moved from Nigeria to the U.S. in 1965 and went on to become the head of the department of library and media services at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens.
At Monday’s meeting, URS Vice President Gill Mosseri, a contractor working with the state DOT on the study, noted a series of problems they hope to address in their study, including: aggressive drivers, jaywalking and aggressive bicyclists, faded markings and signings, long distances between signalized crossings, vehicles failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, complex intersections with numerous conflicts, and insufficient pedestrians crossing time due to the width of Ocean Parkway.
“There can be more than 1,000 feet between one signalized crossing to another,” Mosseri said during the meeting. “I’ve seen people walking across the parkway with no perception of how fast vehicles are coming at them.”
Mosseri went on to say that the study is looking at three main locations to possibly house a mid-block crossing – which would give a traffic signal for pedestrians to cross and includes an island for individuals who can’t make it all the way across the road before the light changes. The three main areas are Avenue F between 18th Avenue and Ditmas Avenue, Elmwood Avenue, and Avenue K.
Other ideas, Mosseri said, included speed display boards, ADA ramp compliance, pavement and marking upgrades, and traffic signage upgrades. He also stressed that they want to address the problems that occur because of turns along the roadway.
“Forty-nine percent of pedestrian and bicyclist crashes along the corridor were caused by right or left turn movement,” Mosseri said.
Pedestrian islands are also being considered for the intersections at Avenue C, Cortelyou, 18th Avenue, Avenue I, and Avenue U.
Lead pedestrian intervals – DOT speak for essentially giving pedestrians a head start to help them cross the road before cars start moving – are being considered for each of the intersections in the study.
The DOT is also looking at the feasibility of eliminating left turns at Avenue C, Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Avenue, Avenue I, Kings Highway, and Avenue U.
Following Monday night’s meeting, the state DOT will analyze the feedback it has received from the public and return to the area to give a public presentation this September. Mosseri said the department aims to begin construction by April 2015 and hopes to complete the project by September 2016.