Following a meeting with Councilman Chaim Deutsch, the DOT has agreed make some changes to the much-maligned Sheepshead Bay Road traffic plan.
Starting Monday, May 23, the city will begin repaving Sheepshead Bay Road, between Jerome Avenue and Avenue Z. The resurfacing will also attempt to slope the street so water runs into the catch basin at East 15th Street to prevent pooling in the intersection, according to a DOT spokesperson.
The agency is also looking to put more lighting under the train trestle and at the new B36 bus stop, which moved to Avenue Z, as well as adding additional parking spaces on Sheepshead Bay Road and moving the taxi stand to the north side of the street in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts.
“These are things that should have been done already. The DOT should have listened to the community before moving forward with this project,” Deutsch said. “I’m very upset with how DOT just threw down cones on the street. That’s not how you treat people in my district.”
Deutsch, like many community leaders, said he was surprised last month when the DOT scattered orange traffic cones around the subway station, cutting off traffic on East 15th Street and Jerome Slip, turning part of Sheepshead Bay Road into a one-way, and moving the B36 bus stop to Avenue Z.
Locals were furious DOT allowed very little input before rolling out the project. There was only one presentation given last year to the community board, which voted against the plan.
Sheepshead Bay isn’t the only community to get strong-armed by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to increase traffic safety. The DOT is moving forward on a new bike lane along part of Queens Boulevard, despite objections from the local community board, the Daily News reports.
At a meeting with city officials last week, neighbors called on DOT to abandon the Sheepshead Bay Road project and come up with a proposal supported by the community.
The coming changes address some of the concerns expressed at the meeting — like dim lighting under the train trestle that makes it dangerous to wait for the bus at Avenue Z. Eliminating pooling at the intersection of Sheepshead Bay Road and East 15th Street will make the schlep to the bus stop less hazardous.
Moving the taxi stand and creating additional parking is also aimed at helping local businesses — some of whom reported sales are down as much as 50 percent since the project was implemented. However, it does little for the stores who said the bus stop outside the train station was an important source of revenue.
Jimmy Mashkulli, co-owner and manager of Bay Pizzeria, said adding more parking outside his store would be welcomed.
“If that bus is not going to come back here, at least put in parking. That would be good for business,” he said.
Deutsch said he also used the meeting to push the DOT to make changes at other dangerous intersections, like Emmons and Nostrand avenues, where a 64-year-old woman was killed while making a left turn.
“If we’re going to practice Vision Zero, we have to do it all around. I expect the same considerations at other dangerous intersections,” he said.
Deutsch’s office reported there were eleven collisions, including one injury and one fatality, at that intersection last year. In 2016, there have been five collisions. Deutsch has called on DOT to put a left-turn signal at the intersection.
Deutsch also urged DOT to install a traffic light at Gravesend Neck Road and East 13th Street, where a car smashed through a flower shop, injuring four people. Deutsch’s office said there were four collisions at the intersection last year.
Deutsch said it was important for DOT to address the issues brought up at the meeting as soon as possible.
“Right now, DOT has to act to restore the trust of the community,” he said.