Neighbors Split on Proposed Truck Route Changes

By Alan Neuhauser on June 19, 2012 1:35pm | Updated on June 19, 2012 4:35pm

The city's Department of Transportation conducted a study of truck traffic on 20th Street in Brooklyn in early 2012.
The city's Department of Transportation conducted a study of truck traffic on 20th Street in Brooklyn in early 2012.
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Department of Transportation

SUNSET PARK — Proposed changes to a well-traveled truck route have divided a swath of Sunset Park.

Last month, at the request of Community Board 7, the city's Department of Transportation published a plan to reduce truck traffic on 20th Street between Third and Seventh avenues, a two-way thoroughfare that is only several feet wider than many one-way streets.

"It's a very narrow truck route," District Manager Jeremy Laufer said. "It's 33-feet wide. Surrounding one-way streets, which aren't truck routes, are 30-feet wide."

Drivers park their cars on sidewalks to avoid getting struck, said local residents and administrators at Al-Noor School, an Islamic K-12 private school at the corner of Fourth Avenue and 20th Street.

"It's so they don't get hit," said Abir Salih, the school's guidance counselor. "A lot of students go across the street to the deli, the pizzeria. It's dangerous with the trucks. When they turn, they actually go over the sidewalk."

Locals also complained about noise, emissions and vibrations from passing trucks, which typically travel 20th Street more than 100 times a day, according to a DOT study.

"The vibration is starting to crumble our homes," said Sharon Rivera, 31, who stated she has lived on 20th Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues for more than 15 years. "The house is starting to lean over. When you're sleeping, you feel the trucks."

The DOT plan calls for converting 20th Street between Third and Seventh avenues into a one-way, eastbound thoroughfare. Westbound trucks on 20th Street would be forced to make a right onto Fourth Avenue, then a left onto Prospect Avenue to continue traveling west.

Residents of Prospect and Seventh avenues, however, have vocally opposed sending trucks trundling down their streets. More than 30 residents spoke at a hearing on the DOT plan Monday night, Laufer said. It was a meeting attended by more than 80 residents, and it lasted just under two hours. Another 99 people submitted written testimony via email before the meeting.

Most of those who spoke and wrote said they were against the plan, Laufer stated. They expressed the very concerns voiced by their neighbors on 20th Street.

"Folks talked about emissions, folks talked about increased truck traffic — although this would not increase truck traffic — folks talked about noise," Laufer recounted.

DOT representatives were on hand to hear to residents' opinions, but they did not comment at the meeting.

The DOT plan would convert 20th Street, currently a two-way truck route, into one-way thoroughfare.
The DOT plan would convert 20th Street, currently a two-way truck route, into one-way thoroughfare.
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DNAinfo/Alan Neuhauser

In an email Tuesday afternoon, a DOT spokesman said, "Seventh and Prospect avenues appear to provide the best options from an engineering and technical standpoint, as other routes would direct trucks to narrow, residential streets."

The issue will next be taken up Wednesday night when the community board meets at 6:30 p.m.

"We'll see if we have something to vote on," Laufer stated.

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