By Gina Martinez
The city Department of Transportation unveiled a new pedestrian plaza at the intersection of Wyckoff Avenue, Myrtle Avenue and Palmetto Street in Ridgewood last Friday. The project is part of Vision Zero, an effort from the DOT to make streets safer for pedestrians. The intersection was the site of 38 serious traffic injuries and three deaths between 2010 and 2014.
At the unveiling were Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia, Brooklyn DOT Commissioner Keith Bray, families of the victims who died in traffic accidents at the intersection, members of Community Board 5 and Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn)
“All of the people standing here today, by working together we helped transform this street and the intersection,” Garcia said. “Just going back to the summer you can think, ‘Wow, we came a really long way.’ It’s a joy to be standing here at this beautiful new plaza, which is the result of a much-needed Vision Zero project. As many of us know, this is a unique, six-legged intersection for residents and commuters for both boroughs.”
The safety improvements include widened crosswalks to match widened paint-based sidewalk extensions, reconfigured signal timing that increases pedestrian crossing time and new road markings. According to Garcia, the changes do not stop there. She announced a capital project for the plaza that is slated to include such features as improved landscaping and trees as well as street lighting. She said that work on the project is expected to start in fall 2018.
“We have the busy Ridgewood bus terminal, which serves six bus lines, the L and M subways and several schools nearby,” Garcia said. “It was clear that safety work needed to be done. After gathering community input and conducting various studies, DOT proposed a design that can be summed up like this—‘simpler is better, simpler means safer.’”
Judith Kottick attended the unveiling in honor of her daughter Ella, who died at the intersection.
“Ella was killed four years ago on a January evening on her way to work in a psychology lab at Columbia University,” she said. “It’s hard to describe how difficult it is for us to be here, to relive the memory of the nightmare we now live with every day, but it’s important for us to be here with all of you to give us a chance to admire the transformation of this intersection.”
She commended the DOT and Mayor de Blasio’s office for recognizing the importance of the project, Councilman Reynoso for his advocacy and Community Board 5 for approving the plaza.
“My husband, son and I appreciate that you included us in this team effort to redesign an intersection that was one of the deadliest in the city,” she said. “Unfortunately, it took three pedestrians to be killed here and thousands to be injured for this bold action to be taken. It has been our hope since we joined this effort in the months after Ella was killed that all of you and your family members would be spared the heartbreak of losing a loved one this way.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart