2010-04-30 / Top Stories

DOT Wants To Eliminate CBB Lane Through Sanctuary

By Nicholas Briano

The Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to eliminate a lane of traffic in both directions along Cross Bay Boulevard from north of Broad Channel to Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge in order to improve safety by reducing vehicular speed, but some community leaders feel that the plan is not the way to go.

The Broad Channel Civic Association, which recently gathered to discuss the proposal, unanimously opposed the idea, saying that eliminating a lane of traffic will not increase safety, but cause unnecessary congestion.

“We voted unanimously in opposition,” Civic Association President Dan Mundy Jr. said. “We appreciate DOT trying to do something about safety, but a guard rail along the bike and pedestrian pathway is what’s really needed.”

Talk about pedestrian safety arose last April when a car spun out of control less than a mile north of Broad Channel, killing a woman and her dog. The proposal would cut the motorist lanes from three to two in each direction from East 4 Road to the bridge.

However, Mundy says the accident data does not properly support DOT’s plan. According to DOT, the data they used as the criteria was from 2003 to 2009 in which five accidents with 11 fatalities occurred. But Mundy says only two were cited for speed as the cause, and one was at 3:00 a.m. That left just one accident, he added, where DOT might be able to make a case where a reduction of lanes could have prevented an accident.

“I don’t think the data supports the restrictions,” he said. “We would be better served in creating guard rails. There are lots of times when women and children walk the pathway.”

The Civic Association also says the plan could cause congestion and long lines of idling cars at traffic lights in Broad Channel, leading to concerns over pollution levels in the area.

Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska says they expect DOT to appear at next month’s CB meeting and the board will then hold a recommendation vote.

“The plan thus far has not been received too favorably,” Gaska said.

But DOT representatives said this week that there is currently more than enough roadway capacity in place than needed to handle the relatively low traffic volume through Broad Channel and that three lanes encourage speeding.

DOT officials concluded that 97 percent of southbound motorists are speeding along the stretch and they anticipate that by narrowing the street to two lanes in each direction, vehicle speeds will decline. According to DOT’s study, 85 percent of the vehicles traveled between 54 and 59 mph.

“The plan will provide frustration, slow down commutes, and create a mess in town,” Mundy said. “I personally think that if the plan goes through, everyone will think it is a disaster and you still won’t increase pedestrian safety.”

Councilmember Eric Ulrich publicly displayed his displeasure with the proposal this week.

“Painting the street and closing a lane is not going to slow down traffic,” Ulrich said. “Speeding is a matter of enforcement left to the police department and National Park Police who must do a better job in enforcing the speed limits. More tickets will get the message across to motorists.”

Ulrich suggested rumble strips, similar to those near toll booths, but he most favored the placement of guard rails along the corridor that could create a safety buffer between motorists and pedestrians and said he’s already offered to generate funding for their installation.

“I agree with the civics. Eliminating a lane won’t do anything and I don’t want it here.”

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