A dangerous Kensington intersection where a woman was killed while crossing the street earlier this summer might be getting safety improvements, according to Councilman Brad Lander, who said the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) is in the process of re-evaluating the corner.
Lander (D-Park Slope-Kensington) said he and other elected officials recently received a letter from state DOT officials in which the transportation experts indicated that they are considering improvements to the intersection.
The letter was greeted with sighs of relief, according to Lander, who said the state agency had earlier seemed to be putting the brakes on a New York City Dept. of Transportation plan to install safety features at the intersection, Lander said.
State DOT would have to sign off on any safety improvement plan by the city DOT because Ocean Parkway, which includes the Prospect Expressway for much of its route, is a state roadway.
In June, 73-year-old Ngozi Agbim was hit and killed by a semi truck at the intersection of Ocean Parkway and Church Avenue. KensingtonBK reported that the victim had been walking on Church Avenue and was crossing the intersection when she was struck by a truck making a hard turn from Ocean Parkway onto Church Avenue.
“It has saddened me that someone died in this tragic accident,” Kensington resident Arlette F. Mathis said. “My family and I cross that intersection daily. We fear crossing, because even with the signage, drivers speed onto the Prospect Expressway and seldom yield to pedestrians. Something like this should never happen again,” Mathis said.
There were 36 pedestrian and cyclist injuries and four fatalities at the intersection between 1995 and 2008, according to Transportation Alternatives’s CrashStat study. Six pedestrians were killed on Ocean Parkway between 2009 and 2011 – more than on any other road in Brooklyn – according to Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s “Most Dangerous Roads for Walking” report.
Despite the fact that the state DOT now seems more amenable to safety measures at the intersection, Lander said he doesn’t want to take any chances.
On Wednesday, Lander, joined by Kensington residents and transportation safety advocates, delivered petitions to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office urging him to push the state DOT approve the city DOT plan.
The petition is titled “Our neighborhood is not a highway!” The delegation delivered 831 petition signatures to the governor.
Last year, residents in Lander’s district voted in the councilman’s participatory budgeting process to allocate $200,000 to safety upgrades at the notorious intersection. But the money has gone unspent because the state DOT has not approved the city DOT plan, Lander said.
“We are encouraged that NYS DOT is finally recognizing the need for safety improvements at this dangerous intersection,” Lander said. “But the time for study has passed. NYC DOT has a plan on the table; my constituents voted for it, we put the funding in the budget last year. NYS DOT has had the proposal for more than nine months. It is time for them to act,” he said.
“Ocean Parkway has long been one of Brooklyn’s deadliest roads for walking,” said Vincent Pellecchia, general counsel for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “NYS DOT can make this dangerous road safer by signing onto a traffic safety plan that not only makes sense, but has funding and broad neighborhood support,” he said.
Kensington residents are hopeful that something will be done to make the corner safer for pedestrians to cross.
“I am heartened by the prospect that real improvement can come to this intersection,” resident Neil Reilly said.