Pedestrian plaza at Queens/Brooklyn border would make deadly intersection safer, city says

Photo courtesy Department of Transportation

The six-legged intersection at Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue and Palmetto Street on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border is one of the most dangerous intersections in the entire city, but the Department of Transportation (DOT) believes the proposed pedestrian plaza will change all that.

According to DOT, the intersection is ranked in the top five intersections for pedestrian fatalities in the city. Since 2009, the intersection has seen three fatalities — Hui Wu in 2009, Ella Bandes in 2013 and Edgar Torres in 2014.

One interesting point to note is that this intersection has fewer lanes — five — is narrower and has less traffic volume than the other four intersections in the top five. Woodhaven Boulevard at Jamaica Avenue, which tops the list with four pedestrian fatalities since 2009, has a combined total of 14 lanes.

Between 2010 and 2014 there were also 25 injuries at the intersection, with 16 of those being pedestrians. Of those 16, two were classified as severe injuries and four were moderate.

Those 25 injuries are nearly double that of other intersections along Wyckoff Avenue, and 10 more than other intersections along Myrtle Avenue over the last five years.

In recent years DOT has tried to make the intersection safer by banning several turns, extending curbs and shortening crosswalks. However, more can still be done to make the intersection even safer.

“DOT wants to take this opportunity to basically look at the desire for more extensive safety improvements at this intersection and to greatly simplify the intersection as a result,” said Jesse Mintz-Roth, a representative of DOT, during Community Board 5’s (CB 5) Transportation and Public Transit committees’ joint meeting on June 21.

One way to make the area safer for both pedestrians and motorists is the pedestrian plaza on Wyckoff Avenue between Myrtle and Gates avenues.

“The goal of this design activity is that this six-leg intersection [with] fewer active legs of the intersection would make it simpler and safer,” Mintz-Roth said. “How do we know that? Because DOT has done projects like this elsewhere and they’ve been successful elsewhere.”

By closing off Wyckoff Avenue between Gates and Myrtle avenues, one leg of the intersection would be removed, along with several possible turns, making the area safer.

Another part of the proposal would be to turn Wyckoff Avenue, between Myrtle Avenue and Madison Street, into a one-way southbound street. This would eliminate another approach and one signal phase at the dangerous intersection.

Ten members of the CB 5 Transportation and Public Transit committees voted for the plaza plan including the one-way change along Wyckoff Avenue, while one voted for the plaza plan with no change to Wyckoff Avenue, and there was one no vote.

Mintz-Roth noted that Brooklyn Community Board 4, which serves Bushwick that shares this intersection voted 30-4 against the plaza plan because they felt it would change the character of the neighborhood.

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