City officials are hoping to make a series of improvement to Grand Army Plaza that they hope will help bikers, pedestrians and drivers get through the traffic circle more easily.
The plan includes a new bike lane near the Prospect Park end of the circle, a traffic light so drivers won’t have to merge multiple lanes to get to Union Street and Prospect Park West, more pedestrian plazas and shorter crosswalks to allow people to cross the circle more easily.
A Two-Way Bike Lane
The plan for a two-way bike lane on the circle’s south end will allow riders to cross between Eastern Parkway and Prospect Park or the Prospect Park West bike lane without having to go around the circle. The lane will also have a leg to to make it easier for bicyclists to get in and out of the park. (See photo of the plan in photo gallery – a digital version is not yet available.)
Officials said they’re not currently pursuing a protected, two-way bike lane on Plaza Street similar to the Prospect Park West bike lane. Some residents have been asking for this to replace the current Plaza Street bike lane, which is one way.
A New Traffic Light
There will also be a new traffic light added to the circle at the point where drivers merge between the lanes heading to Union Street Prospect Park West, Prospect Park, Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway. The light will be timed to give those in the innermost lanes time to get across several lanes of traffic without worrying about other cars.
Along with this will also be a raised concrete separator between the lanes before the light to prevent people from trying to merge early.
Shorter Crosswalks and More Pedestrian Plazas
Under the plan, the area used for the farmer’s market as well as other parts of the circle blocked to traffic will become protected pedestrian plazas with granite blocks to ward of wayward cars and a rough tan surface to delineate it from the street.
Some of the crosswalks at the north (Vanderbilt Avenue) end will get additional pedestrian islands, some of which will be landscaped, officials said, and some existing islands will be enlarged. In addition more crosswalks will be added to that end.
These changes would shorten the crosswalks, making it easier to walk across the circle and get to the actual plaza portion of the plaza.
3 Months of Work
Work on the project would take place in June, July and August, with most of the work in July and August.
When Grand Army Plaza residents at a meeting on the plan expressed concern about the noise, officials said that the only really loud part was the excavation which will only take “one or two days.” Unfortunately for the residents, that work needs to be done overnight, because that’s when there are the fewest cars.
“The workers are people, too, and we need to keep them safe,” an official noted.
Officials said that the work will never completely close the streets to traffic.
Department of Transportation officials presented the plan at the annual meeting of the Grand Army Plaza Coalition this morning. They will next take the plan to Prospect Heights’ Community Board 8 and Park Slope’s CB6, both of which could vote on the plan as early as next month. However, these boards have only advisory power, and the city could choose to proceed with the plan even if the boards decide against it.
DOT officials said they expect to put the plan online next Thursday after presenting it to Community Board 6's transportation committee.
The DOT floated nearly the same plan to area residents last year, but it got waylaid by "logistical issues," said Christopher Hrones, the city's downtown Brooklyn transportation coordinator.