Traffic agents missing on weekends at Ridgewood/Middle Village construction site, residents say

TEA Metro Freshpond
Photo by Anthony Giudice/QNS

Drivers need a helping hand to get around the ongoing bridge reconstruction project at Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road at the Ridgewood/Middle Village border, but that helping hand is invisible on weekends, according to local residents.

Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5 (CB 5), said that the board has received several complaints about Traffic Enforcement Agents not being on site during the weekends, leading to confusion and congestion during a time when a lot of people are traveling around that area.

“There has been trouble with the Traffic Enforcement Agents being there, especially on the weekends,” Giordano said during the CB 5 Transportation and Public Transit Committees meeting on Feb. 28. “And my experience is that Saturday traffic is a nightmare. It’s bad from 10 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.], maybe even beyond four. It’s people doing their errands on Saturday.”

As part of the project, agents are supposed to be stationed 24/7 at six intersections in the area: the intersection of Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue 60th Lane and Metropolitan Avenue; Eliot Avenue and 60th Lane; Eliot Avenue and Fresh Pond Road; Eliot Avenue and 69th Street; and 69th Street and Metropolitan Avenue.

“I think it continues to be a problem on the weekend, especially at the Fresh Pond Road-Metropolitan intersection where on several weekends no one has been there for much of the weekend to direct traffic,” Giordano said. “Most of the complaining has been that they haven’t been at Metropolitan and Fresh Pond; two main arteries narrowed down to one lane in both directions because of the work taking place.”

This problem has become even more exasperated now that free shuttle buses will be moving commuters between Metropolitan Avenue and Bushwick with the M train being shut down for 10 more weekends due to preliminary track work for the full shut down later this year.

With agents still not at the site the weekend of March 4-5, Giordano told QNS on March 7, he has been in touch with those in charge of the bridge project locally, as well as the Department of Transportation (DOT) Borough Commissioner’s Office. According to Giordano, they indicated that they’ve had several meetings with agent supervisors over the past two weeks to emphasize the problem when the agents are absent.

Although traffic may be a headache right now at that intersection, traffic accidents are actually down across the 104th Precinct for the 28-day period between Jan. 30 and Feb. 26, compared to the same time frame in 2016, Police Officer Alex Ferraris said at the Feb. 28 meeting.

“We are down 21 accidents from last year at the same time, which is seven percent,” Ferraris said. “We are also down on accidents on the highway, we’re down 10 or 32 percent. Accidents involving police vehicles — we’re learning how to drive a little bit better, I guess — we’re down three, zero versus three.”

Accidents involving commercial vehicles and trucks, and motorcycle accidents, pedestrian injuries, and fatalities are down this year as well. Occupant injuries and cyclist injuries, however, had a slight uptick compared to the same timeframe last year.

Ferraris also said that speeding enforcement has increased 68 percent year-to-date, and 15 percent during the last 28-day period.