Assemblyman Dov Hikind along with elected officials including Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Sen. Simcha Felder and City Council Members Chaim Deutsch and Mark Treyger yesterday led about a hundred residents in a rally at the intersection of Avenue J and Ocean Parkway to stop proposed traffic changes to Ocean Parkway.
Ocean Parkway is a major thoroughfare in Brooklyn that runs from the end of the Prospect Expressway to the north to the Coney Island/Brighton Beach border to the south.
The proposal that came down from the State Department of Transportation, and was greenlighted by the city – all with very little community involvement includes eliminating right turns from Ocean Parkway onto Avenues J, P and Kings Highway, as well as eliminating left turns on other avenues.
“Eliminating right turns will only endanger the safety of motorists, children and their families who live adjacent to Ocean Parkway, and will undoubtedly create havoc for all,” Hikind said. “Let your voice be heard! No more no turns!”
The two-year, $15 million NYS DOT Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety project, which is set to implement these traffic changes as early as February 2017, will also force motorists to turn one block earlier onto the service roads in order to make the right turn. “This would cause major aggravation and chaos like no one has ever seen before on Ocean Parkway. It would be an accident waiting to happen,” Hikind said.
Back in 2015, NYS DOT presented the traffic changes to community boards through PowerPoint slides, but failed to include any information on eliminating right turns along Ocean Parkway.
James noted, as did several sources, that both city and state officials had called her office, telling her not to participate in the rally, but she felt compelled to attend because of the lack of community involvement in the changes.
“I stand with Assemblyman Hikind and I stand with this community which knows what’s best for its residents. I urge Governor Cuomo to listen to the concerns of the community and to stop this initiative. Government operates best when it listens to the community,” said James, noting that South Brooklyn is the only sector in the city that has had a reduction in traffic fatalities thus far this year.
“When you talk about traffic accidents and traffic fatalities, you have to think about the dangers our children face. When traffic changes happen, it’s backed up by data and by the community and therefore, members of community should have a seat at the planning table where you can properly debate and discuss these changes,” said Stringer.
Felder said it is evident that residents in his district are confused and angry about the state DOT decision to prohibit right turns on certain parts of Ocean Parkway.
“We were unaware of these changes until very recently. Consequently, I have asked Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll, and New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to put these no-right-turn changes on hold until the local elected officials and community board chairs can meet to discuss these proposed changes, the reasons behind them, and their impact on the district,” said Felder.
Deutsch noted how it is often difficult to get elected officials on the same page, and that the only time it happens is when it affects seniors, children, hard-working parents, mothers, fathers and school buses equally.
“I as a parent have called 9-1-1 for an emergency for one of my children who needed EMS. How can we rely on our first responders and 9-1-1 when we have congestion and traffic along Ocean Parkway? We need to make our voices loud and clear. Thank you to Assemblyman Hikind, who has always been at the forefront of so many issues in our community and who spearheaded this rally,” said Deutsch.
Treyger said if the state really cared about Ocean Parkway they should do something about all of the potholes along the major thoroughfare.
“Let them do something about the service paths and the bike paths along Ocean Parkway. That’s my message to the state. This concept of Vision Zero should not mean zero common sense or zero input from the people of this community,” said Treyer.