A dangerous intersection in Bushwick, the site of numerous accidents and a fatal collision in January, may soon get safer, the Department of Transportation said at a hearing Thursday night in Ridgewood, Queens.
The department has named the three-way intersection, on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, a high-risk pedestrian crash site. At the hearing, Nichole Altmix, a DOT senior project manager for traffic and planning, outlined the steps the department is taking to make the intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue and Palmetto Street safer. Specifically, she said the DOT is looking at the types of crashes happening there, tracking vehicle turns, measuring vehicle volume and measuring pedestrian and train ridership numbers.
The DOT plans to use its data to work with the MTA and figure out what improvements they need to make, such as potentially changing the direction of a street, increasing lighting, moving a bus stop or banning a particular type of turn.
The hearing took place about half a mile from where an MTA bus fatally hit 23-year-old Ella Bandes in January. She was the catalyst for the DOT’s analysis and the public hearing. Her parents, brother and friends were among the roughly 70 people who attended the meeting in a library at I.S. 77. Ella’s mother, Judy Kottick, spoke about her daughter during the hearing, which lasted more than two hours and only ended when someone flickered the lights to get people out. Kottick said after the hearing that she would keep pressuring the DOT until it makes safety improvements.
Suggestions from attendees included moving the gaggles of livery cabs from the area, creating a designated spot for commuters to be dropped off and picked up, and expanding sidewalks so crowds of people waiting for buses or exiting the subway don’t spill out into the street during busy periods.
Ben Kintisch of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a volunteer with Transportation Alternatives, suggested elevated crosswalks, buttons to push at pedestrian crossings and traffic lights with arrows to direct turning. Coordinating traffic lights to stop vehicles in all directions and allow pedestrians greater freedom to cross the intersection was another of his suggestions.
“We’ll put them in our toolbox and definitely consider them in our redesign,” Altmix said.
Several residents came up to Kintisch after the hearing to praise his suggestions. “The key to making our streets safer is to engineer them so our most vulnerable users remain safe,” Kintisch, 32, told The Brooklyn Ink.
Democratic Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who helped moderate the hearing, was one of several people who said the intersection needs more lighting. Ella was hit by the bus shortly before 11 p.m. After the accident, residents came to Reyna saying how dangerous they thought the intersection was, she said.
Representatives from the DOT, NYPD and advocacy group Transportation Alternatives took questions and gave the audience insight into how they approach problem traffic areas.
The DOT must have a plan for improvements within a year and said it can arrange another hearing in the fall to update the public on its progress.