Following is the text of our letter to DOT:
12 May 2011
Mr. Joseph Palmieri, Brooklyn Borough Commissioner
New York City Department of Transportation
16 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11241
Dear Commissioner Palmieri:
The pedestrian that was struck and killed at the corner of Summit and Columbia Streets on March 31st this year is yet another sad reminder of the hazards of our main street. As all local residents know, Columbia Street is dangerous. There are a number of factors that make this so:
1. The section of Columbia Street between Degraw Street and Hamilton Avenue is particularly narrow, with parking on both sides. Vehicles cannot pass each other, but often try to do so. This contributes to congestion and accidents.
2. A lack of loading areas in the commercial strip results in double parking, causing further congestion.
3. Because we are near the port and the manufacturing areas of Red Hook, truckers often use Columbia Street as a shortcut to avoid using the less convenient legal truck route on the BQE.
4. Drivers seeking a route around the congestion in the BQE ‘trench’ exit at Atlantic Avenue, travel down Columbia Street and return at Hamilton Avenue.
5. The reconstruction work on Van Brunt Street has been going on for years with no clear end in sight. The designated local truck route of DeGraw Street and Van Brunt Street, was formerly two-way, but is now one-way southbound. Northbound traffic must divert onto Columbia Street via a complicated series of turns.
6. Poor sightlines exist at most intersections due to parked cars. This is especially true at the stop signs at President Street and Summit Street.
7. There is substantial pedestrian traffic crossing Columbia Street to reach the playground and Urban Meadow on President Street.
We expect significant increases of pedestrian and bicyclist activity in the coming months as the weather improves and more people visit Brooklyn Bridge Park. This activity will only increase as the Park is built out. Our neighborhood has several new apartment buildings and more developments are underway, increasing the number of residents who will be walking to the stores along Columbia Street and Union Street and visiting our local parks and gardens. It is now more important than ever that the safety of our residents and visitors be assured.
We met with DOT representatives and representatives from many of our elected officials and Community Board 6 in March of 2010 and issued a list of requests and recommendations. We are heartened by the progress being made on many of the requests. However, our number one priority remains taking every measure to make Columbia Street safer and, in particular taking measures that address the increasingly dangerous stretch of Columbia Street between DeGraw Street and Hamilton Avenue.
We therefore make the following recommendations to DOT:
· “Daylighting” intersections on Columbia Street between DeGraw Street and Hamilton Avenue.
· Signalizing intersections on Columbia Street south of Union Street.
· Installing “gateway” signage at DeGraw Street and Columbia Street sending a clear message to vehicles to “Slow Down - Thickly Settled Area” or similar language.
· Posting the maximum speed limit signage on Columbia Street between Atlantic Avenue and Hamilton Avenue.
· Studying the feasibility of adding more loading zones to lessen the impact of double parked delivery trucks.
· Installing pedestrian bulb-outs at the Degraw Street and Columbia Street intersection to alert all vehicles of the narrower street geometry on Columbia Street south of DeGraw Street. This will have the added advantage of signaling to trucks that the truck route does not continue on Columbia Street south of DeGraw Street once the designated truck route is back in service.
We look forward to working with you on these recommendations in a renewed effort to effectively address the dangerous conditions on Columbia Street.