Something is out of joint on the stretch of 156th Avenue between 77th and 78th streets in Lindenwood. The street here is twice the width it is on adjacent blocks.
The odd layout has existed for more than three decades, since this part of the neighborhood was developed. It has led to residents parking in the middle of the street, sometimes with two cars next to each other, in what many say is an unsafe traffic condition.
The travel lanes of 156th Avenue are regulated to the southern half of the block, with the entire northern half serving westbound traffic. But typically it is just used for parking. The strange street design does confuse drivers.
In 2010, Community Board 10 approved a plan designed by the city Department of Transportation to normalize the road. Then, the plan was to put a concrete median in the center of the street and allow parallel parking on either side of the median.
But the DOT never went ahead with that plan because they want to implement it as part of the larger Jewel Streets infrastructure project aimed at alleviating flooding in Lindenwood, which was previewed at CB 10 last month.
So instead the agency has come up with a temporary fix until permanent ones are made during the Jewel Streets work.
DOT representative Al Silvestri, who presented the proposal to CB 10 last Thursday, said the plans aim to normalize the street and to increase parking in the neighborhood.
“The people who live in this area have difficulty parking,” he said. “Because this block is so wide, it can accommodate something different.”
As part of the plan, a wide painted median will be placed in the center of the road, along with white bollards, moving westbound traffic to directly in front of the homes on the north side.
In the new median, 15 angled parking spots will be built, to be accessed from the north side of the median. Westbound traffic would back into the angled spots.
“Residents currently park in the middle of the roadway,” Silvestri said. “Nobody knows exactly where they can park, what’s legal and what’s illegal. We’re looking to correct that.”
The street will narrow in both adjacent blocks, but Silversti said enough signage and striping will be placed in the area to guide traffic.
Though there was no opposition to the plan from members of CB 10 from Lindenwood, some offered suggestions to change it.
“That parking area, you’re right across the street from people who have driveways coming out,” said CB 10 member John Calcagnile. “I would have flipped it. I would put the angled parking on the south side of 156th Avenue, where there are no houses.”
Silvestri said the DOT would consider that suggestion.