Eyes on the Street: Ocean Parkway Gets Safety Upgrades, With More to Come

Even with the crosswalk closed for construction of a pedestrian island, a lot of people still want to cross Ocean Parkway along the north side of Church Avenue. Photo: Ryan Lynch

A plan to improve pedestrian safety at a dangerous Brooklyn intersection is seeing the first signs of progress on the ground.

In June, Ngozi Agbim, 73, was killed by a turning tractor-trailer truck driver on the north side of the intersection of Church Avenue, Ocean Parkway, and the Prospect Expressway. The location, which had already been targeted for pedestrian safety improvements through Council Member Brad Lander’s participatory budgeting process, falls on the border between state and city DOT jurisdiction.

After Agbim’s death, Lander said state DOT had not only delayed safety fixes at the intersection, but pushed for removal of the crosswalk altogether. In August, the state agreed to move forward with improving the crosswalk and adding a pedestrian island, developing a plan with NYC DOT.

Now, the first of those changes is being installed: A new concrete pedestrian island, providing a space for people midway across the Prospect Expressway on-ramps, is under construction and scheduled for completion in mid-November, according to NYC DOT. Protective barriers, crosswalk striping, bike markings, narrower traffic lanes, and additional signage are on the way. NYC DOT is currently coming up with a schedule for installing new traffic signals that will include flashing yellow arrows for turning drivers, and the state DOT says work should be completed by the spring.

The new pedestrian island under construction at the Prospect Expressway and Church Avenue. Photo: Ryan Lynch

The state also said it had made progress on its study of 39 intersections on Ocean Parkway between Prospect Park and Shore Parkway, using crash data and consultation with NYC DOT to select 10 intersections for improvements. They are, from north to south:

  • Church Avenue
  • Avenue C
  • Cortelyou Road
  • Ditmas Avenue
  • 18th Avenue
  • Avenue I/Bay Parkway
  • Avenue J
  • Avenue P
  • Kings Highway
  • Avenue U

The safety enhancements the state is considering include new pedestrian signals, signal timing adjustments, upgrading curb ramps to ADA standards, and restricting traffic or turning movements — but the state did not say it was considering physical traffic calming measures like pedestrian islands. State DOT says the study should be completed next spring, with $5 million in state funds allocated for pedestrian safety improvements on Ocean Parkway and construction set to begin in 2015.