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Posts from the "United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park" Category

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CB 7 Approves 50-Block Ped Safety Project for Sunset Park’s Fourth Ave

In an overwhelming 31-2 vote (with three abstentions), Brooklyn Community Board 7 passed a motion last night in favor of re-engineering Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park for greater safety. The NYC DOT project [PDF] will add a substantial amount of pedestrian space at intersections from 65th Street to 15th Street, widening medians and narrowing crossing distances on the 88-foot wide street.

Image: NYC DOT

This stretch of Fourth Avenue, currently three moving lanes in each direction plus turn bays, is one of the deadliest streets in Brooklyn, with seven pedestrians killed in traffic between 2006 and 2011. Some of the current medians are less than two feet wide. Under the plan, the narrowest medians would at least triple in width, and wider ones would expand too. The pedestrian space will be reclaimed by converting 17-foot wide combined parking and travel lanes on each side of the street into 13-foot wide parking lanes, though three travel lanes will be maintained northbound during the morning rush, from 38th Street to 17th Street. The changes would be implemented with low-cost materials — epoxy, gravel, planters, flexible posts — and DOT can complete them by this fall.

At a hearing hosted by CB 7′s Fourth Avenue Working Group on Monday, neighborhood advocates said the changes were a long time coming.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the environmental justice non-profit UPROSE, said she could remember discussing traffic calming and greener infrastructure for Fourth Avenue with CB 7 district manager Jeremy Laufer 15 years ago. “This is not new,” she said, urging the board to vote for the plan. “We’ve been talking about these things for a long time in Sunset Park. If we miss the opportunity, we might not get these improvements.”

Lined with schools, subway stations, churches, and stores, Fourth Avenue is full of destinations for this bustling neighborhood of predominantly car-free households. DOT has been working intensively with neighborhood groups and local schools to develop the Fourth Avenue plan. A workshop in February brought together English-, Spanish-, Cantonese-, and Mandarin-speakers to gather ideas about what needs to change on the avenue.

“Almost everyone who goes to school on Fourth Avenue walks there,” said project manager Jesse Mintz-Roth. ”The narrowness of the medians came out over and over in the workshops.”

Last week, three children were struck by a turning driver at Fourth Avenue and 44th Street, one of whom was injured. The crash was fresh in the minds of several participants at Monday’s hearing, including Yesenia Malave-Lee, PTA president at P.S. 503, who said the threat of traffic violence looms over every parent walking their kids to school on Fourth Avenue. “I’m all for the changes being made here,” she said.

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Profiles in Discouragement: Pols Defend Traffic Status Quo

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Council member Lew Fidler delivers his Tax & Tunnel plan to the Commission.

Spencer Wilking reports:

The city's traveling road show of community advocates, local politicians and concerned residents, otherwise known as New York City's Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission, stopped in Brooklyn Thursday night as part of its whirlwind seven county tour.

At the hearing Brooklyn politicians delivered a resounding rejection of Mayor Bloomberg's plan for congestion pricing. From the Assembly (Joan Millman and Hakeem Jefferies) to the State Senate (Velmanette Montgomery and Carl Kruger) to the City Council (Vincent Gentile and Lew Fidler), to a candidate for Borough President (Bill de Blasio) they strode to the podium and railed against the plan calling it "Manhattan-centric" and bad for Brooklyn. Except for Councilmember David Yassky (who with great dexterity managed to support congestion pricing AND agree with his fellow Brooklyn politicos), endorsements for congestion pricing were left to residents and advocates. Council member Leticia James came close to supporting it but just couldn't do it, "at this time."

Brooklyn politicians voiced concern that their borough would become a "park and ride" community for those headed across the East River, clogging already crowded streets. They demanded the inclusion of residential parking permits to spurn this practice. Likewise, the usual argument that congestion pricing is an unfair tax on poor and working class families was cited more than once.

"I don't want to be known as an Assembly person from the largest parking lot in New York City," said Assembly member Joan Millman. "This will punish hardworking New Yorkers who live in the outer boroughs."

Millman, whose district is, literally, the tip of Long Island's traffic funnel into Lower Manhattan, crushed on a daily basis by regional through-traffic, went on to say that buildings, not vehicles were the true culprits of air pollution.

Instead of the current congestion pricing plan, politicians demanded better bus routes, more water taxis, advancements in the hybrid car, HOV lanes and a harbor freight tunnel for trucks. The need for improved subway service was a common lament, summed up by Council member Tish James, "For the record: The G train sucks."

Specific funding for these ventures was left mostly ambiguous, or as Council member Vincent Gentile put it: "The State legislature can find some options."

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