By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Citing concerns over the impact proposed changes would have on their neighborhood, members of Community Board Six rejected a Department of Transportation (DOT) plan to redesign Fourth Avenue in Park Slope.
At its meeting on June 12, Board Six voted 18-9 with five abstentions to say “no thanks” to the DOT proposal to reduce traffic lanes and implement other measures in an effort to increase pedestrian and vehicular safety on the section of Fourth Avenue that falls under the board’s jurisdiction – between Pacific and 15th Streets.
DOT is looking at the entire length of Fourth Avenue – from downtown Brooklyn to Bay Ridge – and has introduced a series of proposed changes in each community board area. The community boards are taking up the proposals separately with each considering the issues its in own backyard.
In a letter to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Board Six Chairman Daniel Kummer wrote that the board is committed to the goal of improving safety conditions on the Fourth Avenue corridor, but that the DOT plan was flawed.
“No one disputes that there are serious traffic and pedestrian safety concerns regarding the Fourth Avenue corridor that must be remedied. The question is how best to address those concerns and to balance the numerous factors an interested involved,” Kummer wrote.
Kummer urged Sadik-Khan to come up with an alternative proposal and added that he would be willing to call a special meeting of the board on July 10 to allow DOT representatives to make a presentation. The city’s community boards don’t usually conduct meetings during July and August.
Chief among the board’s concerns is the proposal by DOT to reduce the number of traffic lanes on Fourth Avenue south of Union Street. Board members believe it would exacerbate traffic tie-ups during the morning rush hour, according to Kummer, who wrote that the reduction would impose an “undue burden on our community.”
DOT is also proposing a ban on left hand turns at several intersections along Fourth Avenue. The proposal would prohibit drivers traveling northbound from making left hand turns at Butler, Degraw, Eighth and 13th streets. A similar ban would be placed on motorists traveling southbound on Dean, Third, Ninth, and 14th streets.
Calling that proposal “too radical,” Kummer charged in his letter that prohibiting left hand turns at the targeted intersections would adversely affect the ability of local residents to navigate their community and would also negatively impact local businesses and their suppliers.
In addition, Kummer raised the concern that the side streets off Fourth Avenue, particularly First, Fifth, and 10th streets, would become more crowded with vehicular traffic as drivers seek alternative routes to get around he ban on left-hand turns.
As an alternative, board members proposed that DOT install phased left-turn signals at certain intersections or limit the left-turn ban to certain hours of the day.
The DOT plan was discussed at a series of workshops and meetings the agency held in Park Slope over the past five months, including an open house that took place at Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish Hall in April.