One month after Brooklyn Community Board 6 passed a resolution condemning DOT’s safety proposal for Fourth Avenue, upending months of public workshops and the decision of its own transportation committee, the full board voted 21-3, with two abstentions, to support a modified version of the plan at a special meeting last night.
Beginning in February, DOT held public workshops to craft the plan, which is similar to changes that were supported by CB 7 and implemented in Sunset Park last year. The street would be tamed with wider pedestrian medians, left-turn restrictions, and a reduction from three lanes in each direction to two. DOT project manager Jesse Mintz-Roth noted that the workshops attracted up to 100 people each. “There’s been extensive public input on this project,” he said.
In the wake of CB 6’s unexpected rejection of the plan, Council Members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, who appoint members to the board, asked DOT to move forward without the CB’s stamp of approval. But board chair Daniel Kummer urged DOT to modify the plan before last night’s special meeting, which he called specifically to address the Fourth Avenue project.
Most of DOT’s presentation last night [PDF] focused on the plan’s benefits not only to pedestrians, but also drivers. Mintz-Roth reviewed the rationale and planning process behind the proposal, which did not receive much explanation at last month’s meeting before the board voted to reject it.
The tweaks DOT made to its plan were relatively modest, but include some changes that will weaken the safety benefits of the original proposal.
- The new plan retains three lanes of traffic northbound on Fourth Avenue starting at Carroll Street, rather than Union Street, as previously planned. This change adds two extra blocks where DOT retains the existing street design to accommodate morning rush hour backups.
- There are now six left turn bans from Fourth Avenue, rather than eight. Under the new plan, left turns from northbound Fourth Avenue to Degraw and Bulter streets have been retained. As a result, the median in these locations will not be widened as much as previously planned.
- A painted curb extension will be added at the southeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Fifth Street. Separately, Fifth Street is on track to receive speed humps before the start of the school year, at the request of the principal of M.S. 51.
Along with an extensive question-and-answer session with DOT staff, these changes were enough to win the unanimous support of the transportation committee and the overwhelming support of the full board.