Left turns could be a thing of the past
by Andrew Pavia
May 22, 2013 | 523 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It may become difficult to make a left turn on 4th Avenue if the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plan to increase the size of the medians in Park Slope comes to fruition.

According to DOT, between 2007 and 2011 52 people have been severely injured and one killed along the 1.4-mile stretch. After a DOT speeding test, it was determined that during off-peak hours up to 78 percent of cars on 4th Avenue are driving above the 30-mph limit.

DOT project manager Jesse Mintz-Roth said that while 4th Avenue operates as a three-lane street in both directions, it is only doing so in name.

“This would create two good lanes, which is basically better than it is now,” he said.

The lanes of traffic as they exist now are an 18-foot parking and moving traffic lane, and two 10-foot moving lanes with an 11-foot raised median. This plan would make the parking lane 13-feet wide, and have two moving lanes, one being 11-feet and the other 10-feet. The median would increase by four feet.

Overall, the proposal would allow for a wider turning bay in certain areas. Also Mintz-Roth stated that there would be truck-loading zones established, however the specific locations of those are still being discussed.

The hope is to prevent the “dangerous weaving” that is occurring along 4th Avenue, according to DOT.

Along with these changes the DOT will be eliminating eight left turning bays and extending the medians from a two-foot-wide structure, at its smallest point, to a 15 to 19-foot-wide section designed to allow pedestrians a place to stand if they get caught crossing between light changes.

The eight locations where the left turns would be banned are Dean Street southbound, Butler Street northbound, Degraw Street northbound, 3rd Street southbound, 8th Street northbound, 9th Street southbound, 13th Street northbound, and 14th Street southbound.

At a Community Board 6 committee meeting last week to discuss the changes, member Jerry Armer voiced concerns of heavily trafficked 9th Street being on the banned list, however Mintz-Roth stated that 9th Street is the third most popular street that drivers turn southbound on and therefore would not cause a significant issue. Only one or two cars per light would have to find an alternate route.

In an attempt to make the process more interactive, DOT has established a website for members of the community to voice complaints, concerns and suggestions.

The DOT has received over 400 online comments just from Park Slope residents, and Mintz-Roth called the online program a “neat and useful tool.”

Bicycle corrals will also be included in the proposal to create better sight lines for drivers, but specific locations have yet to be determined. However, some committee members complained the corrals are a nuisance to take care of and take up parking spaces.

In the end, the committee voted to approve the proposal with one opposed.

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