Poorly Lit Hamilton Avenue Crossing is a 'Death Trap,' Locals Say

By Nikhita Venugopal on February 5, 2014 7:01pm 

 Residents and community members met at the Miccio Center in Red Hook on Feb. 5 to discuss possible improvements for the neighborhood's issues regarding transportation and accessibility.
Residents and community members met at the Miccio Center in Red Hook on Feb. 5 to discuss possible improvements for the neighborhood's issues regarding transportation and accessibility.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

RED HOOK — A poorly lit Gowanus Expressway underpass is a “death trap” that needs to be made safer for pedestrians — one of a series of transportation issues that ought to be addressed in the bustling and industrial area, residents said.

The underpass, which connects West 9th, Clinton, and Huntington streets with Hamilton Avenue, is one of the primary walking routes between Red Hook and Carroll Gardens.

But pedestrians only have a brief amount of time to cross Hamilton Avenue, a two-way street that runs on either side and beneath the Gowanus Expressway, locals said Tuesday evening.

The Department of City Planning hosted a community meeting in Red Hook Tuesday to discuss ways to improve the neighborhood’s poor access to public transit and accessibilities woes.

“Accessibility seems to be an overarching theme in this neighborhood,” said Aline Fader, a representative from the department.

City officials recommended adding more pedestrian crossings and establishing a buffer between cars and pedestrians.

In a presentation, the officials also suggested building a green space, with more light fixtures, for the “dark, unsafe” underpass.

“That area sounds like the most cost effective area to upgrade,” Jessica Colon, who works for the Red Hook Community Justice Center, said at the meeting.

The Department of City Planning study, conducted in consultation with the Department of Transportation and the MTA, was undertaken to determine better ways to connect Red Hook with other neighborhoods while also improving streets, transit access, safety and traffic flow in the waterfront neighborhood.

"DOT has been in consultation with DCP on that agency's Red Hook transportation study since the beginning," DOT spokesman Nicholas Mosquera told DNAinfo. "We welcome their input and suggestions from the community and look forward to reviewing the report and any proposed safety and mobility enhancements."

At the meeting, city planning reps addressed several concerns, such as dealing with truck congestion, making the neighborhood more bicycle friendly and repairing missing or damaged sidewalks, streets and signs.

 The underpass across Hamilton Avenue and under the Gowanus Expressway between Red Hook and Carroll Gardens.
The underpass across Hamilton Avenue and under the Gowanus Expressway between Red Hook and Carroll Gardens.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

But their suggestions — additional loading zones for trucks, installing bike racks and incorporating repairs into capital projects — involved residents and business owners working directly with the DOT or determining the feasibility of making the improvements a reality, steps that would create a longer timeline to having a more accessible Red Hook.

“Enough is enough,” said John McGettrick, head of the Red Hook Civic Association. “We need more action, less study, and we need it now.”

A final report would be published at the end of March.

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