Community Board 6 does not like the city’s proposed changes to the congested intersection at Metropolitan and 71st-Continental avenues in Forest Hills and discussed a counterproposal at the monthly meeting on Oct. 9.
The Department of Transportation plans to create a turn bay for eastbound drivers on Metropolitan Avenue to make the left turn onto 71st-Continental Avenue, eliminating 14 metered parking spaces and moving a westbound bus stop from the northwest corner to midway down the block.
A DOT spokesperson said the plan would “enhance safety for road users at a location that has seen an increasing number of crashes, one of them fatal, while also improving traffic flow.”
Drivers sometimes make left turns quickly because of oncoming westbound traffic and fail to pay attention to pedestrians crossing 71st-Continental Avenue. In addition to the fatality in 2011, eight pedestrians were injured at the location, two of them severely, between 2006 and 2010. Forty percent of the pedestrian injuries were caused by turning cars failing to yield to people crossing in the crosswalk with a walk signal, the DOT reported.
CB 6 approved a letter written by its Transportation Committee to be sent to the DOT, suggesting that instead of a turn bay, there should be a green arrow light, indicating when it is safe to make a left turn, while there is also a red light preventing pedestrians from crossing.
As of press time, a DOT spokesperson said the agency has not received the letter.
“The committee questions the effectiveness of the left turn lane remedy minus the installation of a traffic turning signal,” the letter, signed by Transportation Committee Chairman John Dereszewski, states.
“The only thing that actually works is not removing parking spaces, not moving a bus stop, and not adding a lane,” the board’s second vice chairman, Steven Goldberg said. “The only solution is a green arrow and a red light for pedestrians.”
According to CB 6 Chairman Joseph Hennessy, the DOT was not receptive to the board’s counterproposal and told them that installing a green arrow turning signal is not in line with federal regulations.
However, Hennessy said “the federal regulations don’t really apply here. If they want to make it safe, the green arrow is the response.”
He added that the board’s main concern is the loss of parking spaces, which may negatively affect businesses in the area.
According to the DOT’s report, many of the businesses on Metropolitan Avenue have parking lots and Muni-Meter data indicating that only a fraction of the spaces are occupied.