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It Was Mistake to Allow 24-Hour Left Turns at Manhattan Bridge, CB2 Says

By Alexandra Leon | December 16, 2015 1:59pm
 Residents say the left turn from the southbound Manhattan Bridge onto Concord Street is a safety risk.
Residents say the left turn from the southbound Manhattan Bridge onto Concord Street is a safety risk.
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DNAinfo/Alexandra Leon

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee has reversed its recommendation to allow drivers coming off the Manhattan Bridge to make left turns onto Concord Street at all times of the day, after residents complained the changes have wreaked havoc on the quiet residential street.

“We made a mistake,” committee vice chair Sidney Meyer said at Tuesday night's meeting, after voting to rescind an earlier vote by the board to lift left-turn restrictions at the intersection, which took effect in October. The committee voted six in favor, three opposed with one abstention.

Previously, drivers were only allowed to make a left turn off the bridge between 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The traffic changes infuriated many in the community, including residents of Bridge Plaza — the neighborhood bordered by Flatbush Avenue and Tillary, Prince and Nassau streets — who attended the meeting to voice their concerns.

“The traffic down Concord Street is a nightmare,” said Bridge Plaza resident and former Community Board 2 member Juan Salazar, 53.

After the Department of Transportation opened the turn to 24-hour traffic in October, trucks and other commercial vehicles coming from the Manhattan Bridge have been flooding Concord Street, a residential street that includes entrances to two school buildings, a playground, a community garden and a CitiBike station, he said.

He and other residents have uploaded videos of the increased traffic to a YouTube channel, which they presented to the committee at previous meetings.

Salazar, a Bridge Plaza resident for 25 years, said the street has never seen so much traffic. He said the community is pleased with the committee’s vote, but the next step is following up with the DOT to ensure the change is made.

“We understand that the DOT has an interest in moving traffic, but that has to be balanced with the safety of pedestrians and school children,” Salazar said.

DOT representatives at the meeting did not say what action they would take following the recommendation, which will be voted on by the full community board in January. They said closing the left turn could lead to congestion on other nearby streets.

“They could go to the Jay Street off-ramp, which is not a great place,” said Terra Ishee, co-director of the DOT’s pedestrian projects, when asked where the traffic from Concord Street would be routed. “There’s Myrtle Avenue, Fulton Street, Lafayette Street.”

While residents want the left turn from the bridge removed completely, DOT representatives proposed keeping the left turn in place between 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and adding signs to prevent trucks from passing through the street, as well as pedestrian signals.

When residents at the meeting said they worried truck drivers would just ignore the signs, the DOT said it was the NYPD’s job to enforce the signs.

In the same motion, the Transportation Committee asked the DOT to add traffic calming measures to Concord Street, like signs, speed bumps and speed cameras, as well as to conduct a traffic study on the left turn from the southbound Manhattan Bridge onto Tillary Street.