DOT Drops Sheepshead Bay Plaza Plan After Oppo From Deutsch, CB 15

The plan would have added pedestrian space, straightened out a bus route, and created a taxi stand. The local council member and community board aren't interested. Image: DOT
The plan would have added pedestrian space, straightened out a bus route, and created a taxi stand. The local council member and community board turned it down. Click to enlarge. Image: DOT [PDF]

More space for people near the Sheepshead Bay subway station? Council Member Chaim Deutsch and Community Board 15 aren’t interested.

A proposal from DOT to add pedestrian space near the Sheepshead Bay express stop [PDF] was panned last month by Deutsch and the CB 15 transportation committee (that would be these guys). The project now appears to have been dropped by the agency.

Sheepshead Bay Road snakes across the neighborhood grid. It’s busy with shoppers and people heading to the subway, as well as illegally parked livery vehicles waiting for passengers getting off the train.

There were seven severe injuries in the area from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT, including five pedestrians and two cyclists. A pedestrian was killed on Avenue Z beneath the train overpass in 2008. But Deutsch and CB 15 rejected DOT’s proposal to shorten crossing distances and eliminate potential conflicts between pedestrians and motorists.

Under the plan, a “slip lane” from E. 17th Street to Sheepshead Bay Road would be converted to a pedestrian plaza, as would E. 15th Street between Sheepshead Bay Road and Avenue Z.

The B36 bus route would stay on Avenue Z instead of detouring to the subway station entrance on Sheepshead Bay Road. Bus riders would walk along the E. 15th Street plaza to get between the subway and the relocated bus stop. An extra-wide crosswalk and painted curb extension would link the E. 15th Street plaza to the station entrance, and a taxi stand would be added west of the subway station.

New pedestrian islands and crosswalks were also in store for two triangle-shaped intersections on Sheepshead Bay Road.

Deutsch and community board members panned the proposal last month, concerned that a pedestrian plaza would become a gathering place for the homeless, especially if no one is in charge of maintaining the space. Deutsch also opposed having people walk a block to transfer between the subway and the B36.

“I wasn’t happy with it, and I didn’t think [community board members] were going to be happy with it,” Deutsch said. “If they come up with something that the community is able to agree on, then I would be happy with that.”

“Everyone in the room was in agreement that this was not going to fix the problem. It is going to create new problems,” said CB 15 chair Theresa Scavo, who said the street needs a taxi stand but not any other design changes. “The problem comes down to enforcement. If you have proper enforcement, traffic will move on Sheepshead Bay Road.”

Scavo said CB 15 has “constantly” been in touch with the 61st Precinct about enforcement against illegally parked livery cars, but it “is not exactly a priority” for the department. While NYPD is ignoring the issue, it seems DOT’s solution isn’t satisfying Deutsch and Scavo, either.

“My impression was that they were dropping it,” Scavo said of DOT’s plan. “Last I heard, DOT wasn’t even going to pursue it.” Deutsch said he hasn’t had any communication with DOT since the plan got a negative review at CB 15 last month.

DOT did not respond to Streetsblog’s questions about the proposal or whether it is working on a replacement plan.