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MTA Plans to Reroute Buses at Deadly Bushwick-Ridgewood Intersection

By Serena Dai | February 20, 2015 3:30pm | Updated on February 23, 2015 8:56am
 The MTA is proposing a plan to reroute two buses at the Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue and Palmetto Street intersection.
The MTA is proposing a plan to reroute two buses at the Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue and Palmetto Street intersection.
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BUSHWICK — An intersection on the Ridgewood-Bushwick border where a pair people were killed by MTA buses over the past two years may soon get a little less hectic.

The MTA is pitching a plan to reroute two buses that usually turn at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue and Palmetto Street, where six bus lines currently pass through, in the hopes of minimizing turns.

The new plan reroutes the B26 and Q58 buses so that they turn onto Ridgewood Place — one block southwest of Wyckoff Avenue — instead of at Myrtle and Wyckoff avenues.

After 23-year-old Ella Bandes was killed by an MTA bus in 2013, the DOT implemented a variety of changes to the area, including more brightly painted crosswalks and turn bans for cars.

 The intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue and Palmetto Street has long been decried as dangerous.
Myrtle-Wyckoff-Palmetto Instersection
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But last fall, a turning MTA bus struck and killed a man at the same intersection, prompting advocates to call for more changes.

A total of 33 injuries occurred at the intersection between 2009 and 2013, leaving five people severely hurt and two dead, according to the DOT.

The agency hopes to implement its new plan as soon as this spring, said Andy Inglesby, the MTA's assistant director of government and community relations.

"This is based on safety concerns," he told Community Board 4 Wednesday. "It would eliminate dangerous turns."

Ridgewood Place currently does not have buses turning onto the street. Inglesby said that the MTA plans on reaching out to local businesses and residents on the street after the community board approves of the plan.

The Q58 currently turns right onto Wyckoff Avenue from Putnam Avenue and then turns right onto Palmetto Street. In the new plan, the Q58 would stay on Putnam Avenue and turn right onto Ridgewood Place instead. The rest of the route would remain the same.

The B26 bus also currently turns onto Palmetto Street from Wyckoff Avenue. The new plan would require the bus to use Ridgewood Place as well.

The DOT may also look at turning Ridgewood Place, which many neighbors said could be too narrow for two bus routes, into a one-way street. The street would lose a couple parking spots to allow for safe bus turning, but there would be a net gain in parking due to free spaces on Wyckoff Avenue after the changes, Inglesby said.

Transportation Alternatives executive director Caroline Samponaro, who's been advocating for the route changes, said the MTA offered "a strong proposal" that many advocates support.

"The MTA really is trying to address what has been a repeated problem at that intersection," she said. "The turning conflict was the cause of multiple fatal crashes. It’s an important next step."

Bandes' mother Judy Kottick, who has also has been advocating for changes since her daughter's death, agreed that the bus reroutes are "a huge step forward."

But both Kottick and Samponaro thought that in the long term, more needs to happen at the "confusing" and "chaotic" crossing.

Kottick maintains that pedestrians should get their own time to cross, when all vehicles are stopped.

She hopes the bus rerouting isn't the last step the city takes to redesign the intersection, she said.

"Everybody thinks it could never happen to them," she said. "If it could happen to my daughter, who's the most careful person that ever lived, it could happen to anybody."