McGuinness Boulevard has long been one of the more dangerous streets in the neighborhood for decades. After the tragic death of local school teacher, Matthew Jensen, the community demanded immediate changes to improve this street’s safety. On June 11, Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman announced a commitment of $39 million in capital funding that will fully redesign the corridor. This includes immediate safety enhancements and a full corridor redesign in 2022. Some immediate safety provisions were implemented including a new crosswalk and pedestrian signal installed at the south side of Bayard Street and left-turn calming installation on several streets. Turn calming reduces left and right turn speeds and enforces safe turning behavior.
At the last Brooklyn Community Board 1’s Transportation meeting on June 30, Zach Wyche, of the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), presented results from their community outreach and a redesign proposal for the in-house project of the redesign. The capital project, which is funded by Mayor de Blasio’s $39M, will be presented and designed after the in-house project is installed. The estimated dates for in-house plan implementation are 2022–2023.
Some of the community feedback was (and is still being) collected from the online comment map hosted by the DOT. At present there are 746 comments, which show a definite majority of comments voiced concern for pedestrian safety.
Three plan proposals were presented; two had lane eliminations. NYC Council Member Lincoln Restler has consistently stated, “The most important thing to me is we reduce the number of lanes of traffic [on McGuinness Boulevard].” In other words, this would put McGuinness Boulevard on a road diet.
A statistic at the CB1 transportation meeting revealed that cut-through traffic amounted to 30%–50% of the traffic on McGuinness. Eliminating this group of drivers who access the street as a shortcut to Pulaski from Meeker could be one solution, although those drivers would then be diverted to alternate routes.
NYS Assembly Member Emily Gallagher has been fighting for improvements since 2010 as a concerned community member. On July 20, she authored a letter to Commissioner Keith Bray, Department of Transportation, for borough of Brooklyn. In the letter she thanks the DOT for their work on the design plans to improve the safety of McGuinness Boulevard. In addition, she urges them to implement actions that can be done immediately as the “dangerous conditions on McGuinness Boulevard persist.” She lists: daylighting all intersections, extending median tips at all feasible crosswalks, timing signals so pedestrians have more time to cross the street, starting work on the new Freeman Street crosswalk, adding pedestrian space on Bayard Street. NYS State Senators Brian Kavanagh and Julia Salazar, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, NYC Council Members Jennifer Gutierrez and Lincoln Restler signed the letter in support.
To see the DOT presentation on McGuinness Boulevard, go to: https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/mcguinness-blvd-complete-street-jun2022.pdf