Dangerous Greenpoint Intersection gets Makeover

By Meredith Hoffman on March 14, 2012 1:41pm 

The intersection of McGuinness Boulevard and Nassau Avenue is the site of six known pedestrian deaths since 1995.
The intersection of McGuinness Boulevard and Nassau Avenue is the site of six known pedestrian deaths since 1995.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

GREENPOINT — The city is expanding sidewalks and reducing the number of traffic lanes at an intersection where advocates say six pedestrians have been killed since 1995.

Engineers are narrowing the roadway on Nassau Avenue at McGuinness Boulevard by widening the sidewalks at the northeast and southwest corners, forcing traffic on Nassau to slow before turning, according to a spokesman for the Department of Design and Construction.

"It's to slow the traffic, to calm it a little," explained Craig Chin of the DDC.

Chin added that new markings would reduce the roadway on Nassau Avenue to one lane in each direction from the current two.

The plan is part of the city's reconstruction of Nassau Avenue, which focuses primarily on sewers and catch basins rather than safety measures, he said. Construction is slated to begin this week.

"It sounds terrific," said Lindsey Ganson, the safety campaign director for Transportation Alternatives, when she learned of the narrowed roadway plan. "It will be great to let people know that these changes are happening and that there's a reason they're happening, to increase safety."

Transportation Alternatives, which compiled its own traffic statistics, said more than 40 pedestrians have also been injured at the intersection since 1995.

The reconstruction begins as local residents and advocates prepare for this Sunday's Memorial Walk along McGuiness Boulevard, to commemmorate the deaths that have occurred since 1995 along the hazardous thoroughfare. The walk is timed with the annual Memorial Ride throughout the city, which remembers all the bicyclists who have died in accidents.

"If you start looking at statistics, way more pedestrians are killed than cyclists," said Ryan Kuonen of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth of Brooklyn, which organized the walk. "It's a time to remember these people, and to realize these deaths didn't have to happen."

Summer Greenstein, a resident on Nassau Avenue one block from McGuinness, said the Nassau Avenue measure does not seem sufficient to combat pedestrian risks crossing McGuiness Boulevard.

The city is starting reconstruction of Nassau Avenue this week, which includes a new safety measure at the corner with McGuinness.
The city is starting reconstruction of Nassau Avenue this week, which includes a new safety measure at the corner with McGuinness.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

Greenstein, who crosses the intersection every morning as part of her morning commute, said the combination of speeding cars, trucks, and long wait-times between lights seems a recipe for disaster.

"Any street narrowing is a good thing as far as pedestrians are concerned," she said, "but the north-south traffic on McGuinness is the real hazard because people speed."

She said the bulk of speeding was on McGuinness rather than Nassau.

It's the most unpleasant thing about the neighborhood," she said. "I have to cross it every day."

A spokeswoman for the city's Department of Transportation said there have been fewer deaths in recent years.  There have been two deaths since 2006 and there were no injuries in 2010, the last year with statistics compiled, she said.

Other safety measures, including pedestrian countdown signals at the corner of Nassau and McGuinness and at intersections along McGuinness from Green Street to Driggs Avenue, were installed in October 2011, the spokeswoman said.

She also said they had added markings on McGuinness Boulevard to calm traffic by narrowing lanes.

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