Brooklyn CB 1 Committee OKs West Street Greenway, Borinquen Place Plans

Last night, Brooklyn Community Board 1’s transportation committee voted 3-0 in favor of a preliminary design for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway’s first capital project on West Street in Greenpoint, and, in a separate 3-0 vote, endorsed pedestrian safety improvements for Borinquen Place in Williamsburg. These projects will bring major improvements for biking and walking on these two North Brooklyn streets.

NYC DOT has proposed sidewalk extensions, concrete medians, and other safety fixes for Borinquen Place. Above, a rendering of the intersection where Borinquen Place converges with Grand Street. Image: DOT

Borinquen Place is a major route for cyclists and drivers going to the Williamsburg Bridge, and it has a deadly history. Because it intersects the grid at an angle, it creates dangerous crossings for pedestrians. The intersection with Grand Street, for example, has an exposed crossing distance of 130 feet.

DOT’s plan is to expand pedestrian space and reduce crossing distances using painted curb extensions and concrete median islands.

The agency began studying Borinquen Place after a request from Council Member Diana Reyna and a string of fatalities. The agency is proposing painted curb extensions at Grand Street, South 1st Street, and South 2nd Street. A concrete median island would be installed on Borinquen Place between Rodney and South 2nd Streets, and concrete curb extensions would be added to the intersection with Marcy Avenue.

One block of South 1st Street, between Keap and Rodney Streets, would be changed from one-way westbound to one-way eastbound to minimize conflicts with pedestrians near Borinquen Place.

In addition, South 4th Street, which widens to 45 feet as it crosses the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, would receive a 15-foot wide painted sidewalk extension, narrowing the travel lane to 12 feet.

The agency is still working on identifying community partners to maintain possible tables and chairs in the sidewalk extensions and will reach out to businesses along the street in the coming weeks. Implementation could begin later next year.

The committee also voted to support the first capital project for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, which would reconstruct West Street in Greenpoint, converting it to a one-way street with a two-way bikeway separated from motor vehicle traffic by a mountable curb.

Since the Department of Design and Construction and DOT presented the project at a full board meeting last month, the city has tweaked the design, adding a striped buffer between the mountable curb and the general travel lane to channelize traffic into a 12-foot lane away from bicyclists. Previously, the proposed travel lane was 17 feet wide.

At last month’s meeting, transportation committee chair Wilfredo Florentino had hostile words for the project, asking if the city would consider abandoning it entirely in the face of opposition. Last night, however, Florentino struck a different tone, saying that he is looking forward to DOT and DDC’s “continued discourse with the community.”

Ultimately, the committee voted to support the project’s preliminary design, 3-0. The project will move ahead before returning to the community board again next year. Construction could begin in 2014.

The MTA also presented its planned waterfront bus route from Long Island City to the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza bus station. It would bring seven-day-a-week service with 30 minute headways to Kent and Wythe Avenues in Williamsburg and Franklin Street in Greenpoint, continuing to Long Island City.

The MTA will present to the full boards of Brooklyn CB 1 and Queens CB 2 in January, with a public hearing in February before service begins in September. The committee unanimously approved a resolution asking the full board to support the plan.