‘A bureaucratic mess’: Surf Avenue reopens after painful eight months in Coney Island

Open: Surf Avenue has reopened after an eight month construction project.
Brooklyn Paper
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Surf’s up!

Coney Island’s Surf Avenue has reopened after an eight-month construction project which forced closure of the densely traveled roadway, causing painful traffic delays across the peninsula.

The three-phase project, which shuttered the avenue between W. 16th and W. 21st streets, was designed to raise Surf Avenue by three-and-a-half feet in an effort to improve storm drainage in the flood-prone neighborhood, as well as support a massive real estate development in the area.

While locals celebrated the reopening, the area’s councilman chastised the government officials tasked with overseeing the project, who he said failed to properly manage the construction effort.

“This was a bureaucratic mess,” said Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island). “It called into question the oversight, and accountability. Who is in charge?”

Treyger said he understood the inherent complications of the large-scale project, which was done in concert with other ventures on the cramped peninsula, and which involved multiple government agencies, but felt that officials botched basic traffic-mitigation efforts.

“You need traffic agents stationed at problematic intersecti­ons,” said Treyger. “There have been a number of times that I had to call the NYPD and City Hall to make sure the traffic agents were there, because often times, they were not.”

Treyger pointed to a recent incident where a construction vehicle fatally struck a 58-year-old man in the crosswalk of W. 21st Street on May 11 as evidence of lacking safety precautions.

The construction vehicle operator, who had been working through the weekend to meet the project’s May 15 deadline, was issued multiple safety equipment violations in response to the tragedy, according to police.

Treyger also blasted the lack of communication between agencies and other entities throughout the project, even attempting to centralize information flow through monthly coordination meetings.

“There were times when the contractors were doing work beyond the agreement,” he said. “For example, you can’t close off Neptune [Avenue] while Surf is closed.”

Still, Treyger stood by the decision to fully close the roadway for eight months, rather than the alternative option presented by the Economic Development Corporation — a quasi-governmental agency tasked with growing the city’s economy — to partially close it for three-and-a-half years.

“Knowing what I know now, they would’ve probably take more than three-and-a-half years,” he said. “The last eight months have not been easy, but if they had gone with option two, I think there would have been more egregious violations of the agreement, and it probably would’ve lead to full street closures. This was the lesser of two evils.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at
Updated 11:29 am, May 20, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Alex from Coney says:
This is great, lovely new streets. Now add beautification of the neighborhood and the new developments and Coney will have its revival. Great decision on behalf of Mark to expedite the development.
May 20, 2019, 11:01 am
Bill from Coney Island says:
Now that Surf finally is open , next week either Con Ed or National Grid will be excavating Surf again. It ain't over till it's over.
May 20, 2019, 1:33 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I hope they put separated bike lanes there so cyclists won't have to deal with self entitled motorists.
May 20, 2019, 2:32 pm
Alex from Coney says:
@Henry, totally agree. I would love paid city bikes as well in the area.
May 20, 2019, 3:40 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Thanks Alex! I hope they eventually expand citibike to every corner of every borough. Get rid of all the free parking!
May 20, 2019, 5:06 pm
Brooklyn Paper from The Management says:
Do not engage Henry Ford, he monopolizes the computer at the asylum and we are in the process of changing his meds. Thank you for your cooperation.
May 20, 2019, 7:31 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
So my mom's basement is now considered an asylum? Good to know, do we get a tax break?
May 20, 2019, 7:37 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Because if so, I can stop pimping her out to all the vatos in my hood.
May 20, 2019, 7:38 pm
AM goodrige from Crown Heights/Prospect Heights says:
Alex your ideas may gentrify the seaside neighborhood along Mermsid avenue between west 20th St & Stillwell Ave could be gentrify 30%=small shops & residents get displaced.
May 21, 2019, 10:40 am
Jon from Coney Island says:
The city missed a big opportunity for beautification here. Why was the roadway rebuilt as it was? Plenty of room for separated bike paths and a raised / beautified median. What a joke!
May 21, 2019, 10:50 am
Alex from Coney says:
@Jon, because the local businesses that will, either way, go out of business in the next 3-8 years rallied against the proposal. Not to worry though, increased rent costs driven up by luxury developments and newer storefronts will beautiful the neighborhood...hard to stop gentrification when younger families in downtown Brooklyn are already talking about seaside living. @AM, I take coney from Asser levy park starting with West 5th..if so then include 626 sheepshead, 532 neptune, Ryabak towers and the luxury redevelopment of 501/502 Surf Avenue as a sign of beautification and future displacement that will shift further and further into Coney.
May 21, 2019, 2:05 pm
Famous Nathan from Coney Island says:
Jon, because we like our cars in Coney Island and we don’t need any transplant that’s been here for an hour whining about a stupid median. Go ride your toy on the boardwalk.
May 21, 2019, 2:08 pm
Famous Nathan from Coney Island says:
Keep dreaming Alex. You want gentrification, move downtown. People like you have tried to destroy Coney Island for decades and you won’t succeed in the next decade either.
May 21, 2019, 2:10 pm
Famous Nathan from Coney Island says:
I’m a fossil that’s going extinct and I’m afraid of new things.
May 21, 2019, 2:20 pm
Alex from Coney says:
@Famous. Not going to argue, everyone is entitled to there opinion. But for some hard facts check out Also, there were a ton of other threads started on city-data showing what is going on. Certain things are inevitable once they are in motion.
May 21, 2019, 2:38 pm
Lisa Saberito from CONEY ISLAND says:
Does Treyger even live in CI??? He is another part of the problem. People in government making decisions for residents in this overpopulated small neighborhood without caring what happens. Sure come on in, build, rip down, close entire avenues and make like hell for residents. Nobody cares. Just like how he was happy to have the Mermaid Parade again this year right after opening Surf Ave after 8 months but more than a year of on and off construction in CI - and why so billionaires and build and make $. NOBODY that lives in CI likes the Mermaid Parade. You close down dead end blocks that people live on so buses and people coming to walk naked have a place to register and stand? Its ridiculous the things that go on in CI. Or how about the horrid Amphitheater!!! You allowed this ——hole to build and by doing so you removed round-about access to 23rd St, lost parking on 22nd St, all the residents on 22nd st suffer eveytime there is an event that you can hear and feel in your home in addition to the influx of jerks that come to this venue and expect to park on the street!!!! 5000 people capacity and the venue HAS NO PARKING TO ACCOMODATE???!!!! MCU isnt bad enough? START DOING FOR THE RESIDENTS AND NOT THE SUMMER TIME VISITORS - THIS ISNT A RESORT. I really wonder who is being paid by who to allow the things that happen in CI.
June 27, 2019, 11:52 am

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