Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $8.5 million Safety Improvement project on Ocean Parkway has started on Beverley Road, Avenue C, and Cortelyou Road — by tearing up the sidewalks and pathways along Ocean Parkway.
The bulldozers, metal grates, and orange cones lining the highway are part of an Ocean Parkway safety overhaul program from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT), which will bring more traffic lights, countdown signals, and no-left turn signs to 10 high-risk intersections on Ocean Parkway, according to the NYS DOT: Church Avenue, Avenue C, Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Avenue, 18th Avenue, Avenue I/Bay Parkway, Avenue J, Avenue P, Kings Highway, and Avenue U, reports Streetsblog.
During the construction, however, neighbors we spoke with expressed concerns about the swarm of pedestrians and cyclists cut off from their usual walkways, now fighting for space on the high-traffic roads.
One person said, “Since construction started, crossing Cortelyou and Ocean Parkyway has been risky at best. My son’s stroller is often inches from traffic. Cars line up waiting to make a turn from the service road, and it feels like a game of chicken during rush hours. It’s problematic when the construction is left in this condition over the weekend.”
What is changing on Ocean Parkway right now?
Although the DOT was unable to give us on-the-ground updates, we spoke with someone working for the privately-owned construction team at the Ocean Parkway and Cortelyou site on June 14. They confirmed that they’re extending the pedestrian ramps on both sides of Ocean Parkway between Beverley and Avenue U.
Based on that tip and the DOT’s list of Ocean Parkway Projects, this looks like the installation of 177 new pedestrian ramps in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, an item on the agenda for Governor Cuomo’s $8.5 million Ocean Parkway Safety Improvement project.
Construction will proceed from north to south along the highway, according to an NYS DOT spokesperson. “They started at Beverley Road and are currently working between Beverley and Shore Parkway,“ says the NYS DOT. The NYS DOT also estimate that the entire project will be completed by summer 2017.
What changes can we expect for next summer?
[Update on October 18]
- We learned from the DOT they will be implementing no-right-turns from the main highway at Avenue C, Avenue J, Avenue P, and Kings Highway. Right turns will still be permitted from the service road, and traffic signals will replace stop signs on the affected service roads.]
- Implementing no-left-turns from the service road at 9 intersections: Avenue C, Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Avenue, 18th Avenue, Avenue I, Avenue J, Avenue P, Kings Highway and Avenue U.
- Replacing six stop signs with traffic signals on the service road at the following locations: Avenue C, 18th Avenue, Bay Parkway, Avenue J, Avenue P and Kings Highway.
- Reconstructing 177 pedestrian ramps, including at the following high incident locations: Avenue C, Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Avenue, 18th Avenue, Avenue I, Bay Parkway, Avenue J, Avenue P, Kings Highway, and Avenue U. Ramps will be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Installing 159 countdown pedestrian signals, including at the following high incident locations: Avenue C, Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Avenue, 18th Avenue, Avenue I, Bay Parkway, Avenue J, Avenue P, Kings Highway, and Avenue U.
- Installing speed display signs at the following locations in each direction, for a total of six signs: between Avenue F and Ditmas Avenue, between Elwood Avenue and Avenue H, and at Avenue K. Upgrading the pavement markings and installing high visibility crosswalks at the following high incident locations: Avenue C, Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Avenue, 18th Avenue, Avenue I, Bay Parkway, Avenue J, Avenue P, Kings Highway, and Avenue U.
- Upgrading the traffic signs at the following high incident locations: Avenue C, Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Avenue, 18th Avenue, Avenue I, Bay Parkway, Avenue J, Avenue P, Kings Highway, and Avenue U.
- In addition, the governor announced a separate $6.7 million project to resurface the asphalt and install new pavement markings on Ocean Parkway.
The crew of eight men will be working at the site between 7am and 3pm on weekdays, according to a construction worker at Cortelyou Road.
Neither the NYS DOT nor construction workers on-site could confirm when the ramps would be completed, but so far one is already done. The ramp at Beverley Road chugged along at a steady pace — the Twitter post below shows concrete poured on May 18, and neighbors noticed that the construction equipment was mostly gone by early June.
Ocean Parkway Bike/Ped Safety Improvement Project: Pouring Curb Concrete at Ocean Pkwy and Beverly pic.twitter.com/wHu2xhQjGP
— NYSDOT New York City (@NYSDOT_NYC) May 18, 2016
Making Ocean Parkway safer
Making Ocean Parkway safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles has been a major concern in the neighborhood for years. A pedestrian island and high-visibility crosswalk has already been added to the intersection of Ocean Parkway at Church Avenue, following the tragic death of 73-year-old neighbor Ngozi Agbim, who was hit by a tractor trailer while crossing the street in 2013. And this wasn’t an isolated incident; according to a NYC DOT report, five people were killed or injured by cars at this intersection between 2007-2011. The safety improvements to Ocean Parkway and Church Avenue were instigated by concerned voices from the area, through demonstrations, petitions, and Participatory Budgeting in District 39.
Ocean Parkway, which was built between 1874-1876, has historically been a neighborhood hang out spot. “With its unique design inspired by the tranquil boulevards of Paris back in the mid-1800s, Ocean Parkway was never intended to be a speedway,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz. “This long-awaited project will not only accomplish the goal of making the thoroughfare safer and more manageable for cars, but it will also allow pedestrians to stroll, sit on the benches and cross the street without fear.”