Safety on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn has long been a concern of DOT and the people who live and work along the corridor. In 2009, the New York Police Department’s 72nd Precinct requested a safety project along the Fourth Avenue corridor. Community Board 7 also approached the DOT with requests for safety improvements along the avenue in Sunset Park. In 2010, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz commissioned NYU Wagner School graduate students to write a report recommending possible improvements for Fourth Avenue. In the fall of 2011, the Borough President’s office launched a Task Force to improve the corridor, with subcommittees on Medians/Beautification, Transportation/Safety, and Times Plaza at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.
DOT ranks Fourth Avenue as one of the highest-crash corridors in Brooklyn. In partnership with the Task Force, DOT has begun holding community workshops for sections of the corridor to develop design ideas for improving safety and traffic operations along Fourth Avenue.
The first stage of street improvements is focused on Fourth Avenue between 15th and 65th Streets, a 2.5-mile stretch of Sunset Park that contains the highest incidence and severity of total traffic crashes and pedestrian injuries over the past five years. The Bay Ridge and Park Slope sections of the Avenue will follow.
About Fourth Avenue
Fourth Avenue is a bustling corridor, home to retail businesses, residential housing and light industrial land use. Pedestrian activity in the Sunset Park section of Fourth Avenue centers around 18 schools, two senior centers, and six subway stations. Three major subway lines – the D, N, and R trains – run beneath Fourth Avenue. Several subway stations lack underground mezzanines and require commuters to cross Fourth Avenue at street level in order to access the uptown and downtown platforms. The B9 bus serves Fourth Avenue south of 60th Street, and the B11 and B70 buses also serve small sections of the Avenue. Fourth Avenue is also a local truck route north of 39th Street.
Speeding has been recorded at all observed locations along Fourth Avenue, in both directions, with up to 57% of vehicles exceeding the 30 mph speed limit. While speeding is especially severe at off-peak times, it remains a concern along the entire corridor at most times. Traffic congestion is also a concern in some locations, most notably the northbound approach to Prospect Avenue during morning peak time, an access point to the Gowanus Expressway.
The road currently features three travel lanes in each direction with parallel parking lanes lining the curb. Built in the 1940s, the existing substandard left turn bays and median islands vary in width from ten feet to two feet. These median islands end without reaching across the crosswalks. Most existing left turn bays are generally too narrow and short to accommodate vehicles, leading to vehicle spillback into the left through-traffic lane.
DOT seeks to propose geometric design changes using temporary materials (road markings, signs, etc.) that will improve street safety in a much shorter timeframe than a capital project (typically 3 to 5 years). DOT is soliciting community input at public workshops and open houses. Once a proposal is approved by the community and Community Board 7, the changes can be implemented by the end of 2012.
See the project timeline for a listing of upcoming events related to this project.