Of all the Brooklyn roadways, none is more confusing than Kings Highway that runs both east and west and north and south winding through Central Brooklyn from Bensonhurst to Brownsville.
And for 40 years no intersection of Kings Highway has had more accidents and drawn more complaints than the circular intersection where Kings Highway meets East 34th Street and Avenue M, according to freelance photographer Shimon Gifter, who moved to an apartment overlooking the intersection four years ago.
“In all my years of covering all kinds of news, breaking news, and Vision Zero before it was even a household name, I have never ever seen anything as crazy as Kings Highway and East 34th Street. The amount of violations I see daily from drivers is through the roof. I do not know one location in this city that anyone would be able to see all kinds of recklessness on one corner within 10 minutes of standing at that location,” said Gifter, adding the intersection has both high pedestrian traffic and a nearby school for the deaf.
After complaining to both the city’s Department of Transportation and the 63rd Police Precinct, and videoing the intersection as proof, only to find his complaints falling on deaf ears, Gifter, brought it up to Mark Meyer Appel, the founder of the Bridge Multicultural Advocacy Project located a few blocks away on Flatbush Avenue.
Appel, in turn contacted local City Council Member Jummane Williams (Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood). Local lawmakers have been trying to get that intersection fixed for years, but none were able to get the city to do anything about it, recalled Appel.
But Williams had his staff jump on the issue and brought city officials down to the intersection to see for themselves the community’s concerns regarding short crosswalk signals, dangerous emerging traffic, unclear signage and missing barriers.
And as a result, the DOT recently started started construction at the roundabout intersection, which upon the expected completion in the Spring will include:
- 20 new and upgraded crosswalks
- New painted pedestrian spaces
- 2 new concrete islands with bus stops, trees, and benches, which will replace the narrow median bus stops to the east of the traffic circle that are not currently ADA accessible
- Better signal placement to improve driver visibility
- Additional green signal time for E 34 St to improve traffic flow
- Closure of the slip between Kings Highway main road and Ave M to improve safety
“The construction taking place is a direct response to issues that were raised by the community. I’m happy to see that DOT took these concerns seriously and put a plan in action to address the public’s issues,” said Williams.
But as the construction commences motorists continue to race through the intersection and the construction work barriers – perhaps out of habit – as caught in the following entertaining Gifter-produced video: