MARINE PARK – On Wednesday morning, elected officials toured the notorious Kings Highway and Nostrand Avenue intersection in Marine Park with the Department of Transportation (DOT) borough commissioner to find safety solutions for both motorists and pedestrians.
The intersection received a new traffic island and bus lane to service the B82-SBS in 2017, but according to local leaders and residents, the change caused safety issues that they demand be corrected. It has also been a source of ire to residents as traffic backs up for blocks due to what they perceive as a bottleneck caused by improper use of traffic signals and the addition of the traffic island.
DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray led a contingent of traffic specialists to evaluate the intersection that was recently upgraded with a new pedestrian island, new signage, and traffic control devices. He was accompanied by Councilman Chaim Deutsch, newly elected Councilwoman Farah Louis, and Assemblymember Helene Weinstein. Concerned residents also accompanied them on the tour.
“This is a tremendous problem,” Assemblymember Weinstein said. “Ever since reconfiguration, traffic is backed up all the time and accidents continue to happen. There is no left lane, people get stuck and then motorists are taking alternate routes, creating havoc on side streets. It now takes an extra 10 minutes just to get through the intersection. It’s a quiet day, schools are closed and a lot people are away, but even today there are problems.”
Councilman Deutsch said he has toured the site six times and he is still “not satisfied.”
“We are back to square one with new people in DOT, new bosses, and despite the redesign, accidents are up and pedestrian accidents are up as well,” Deutsch said.
He said DOT came to them with a redesign plan at the “12th hour” and they had “no collaboration with the community.”
“They are not taking away the pedestrian island and so myself and Councilmember Louis have asked for traffic control agents, but the traffic people say it is too dangerous,” Deutsch added. “If it is too dangerous for a traffic agent, then how is it for pedestrians and motorists? Something must be done before we have another fatality.”
Councilwoman Louis agreed, saying she is “joining forces with the elected officials to ensure that we can correct traffic safety.”
“There have been some fatalities and really bad injuries here, and so we have gotten together with DOT so they a correct the situation,” she said. “This intersection is always congested and there are recommendations we gave past and we want this to lead to solutions.”
Harvey Weisenveld, a resident of Marine Park, said there are simple solutions to make the intersection safer. He said they need to change the left hand turn signal going north on Nostrand and change the timing on some of the lights to both allow traffic to flow better and to give pedestrians and vehicles time to make their way.
“They don’t want to move the buses and they are not taking away the traffic island, so we need to make simple changes that will make it safe,” Weisenveld said.
Brooklyn Commissioner Bray recognized the difficulty at the intersection and said he’s “never seen traffic so light.” He noted that when school starts, traffic becomes very heavy there.
“We understand [New Yorkers become impatient with the slow-downs] and we are trying to do something to help the situation,” he said.
According to residents, the installation of a pedestrian island in 2017 has made the traffic worse and forces motorists to “run red lights.” Local residents say they often find themselves stuck in the middle of the intersection due to out-of-sync timing signals. The lack of a left turn signal north and southbound from Nostrand Avenue onto Kings Highway is dangerous, they say.
The east- and west-bound lanes on Kings Highway have left-turn signals that go from green to yellow. Published reports say that when the yellow light is flashing, motorists have no idea that there is a walk sign for pedestrians and pedestrians have no idea motorists are heading right towards them.
There have been at least 55 crashes at the intersection, officials say, many of them involving serious injuries at Nostrand Avenue and Kings Highway since 2018.