City must install traffic agents to safeguard pedestrians amid construction on road, locals demand

Lane drain: State transit workers took over a driving lane on Fourth Avenue outside IS 136 and MS 821 to make repairs to subway tunnels beneath the road.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

The city refuses to station traffic-safety agents near ongoing construction projects on Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, putting hundreds of area students’ lives at risk as they walk to school each day, according to a local civic leader.

“There are two middle schools located between 40th and 41st streets, and the thought that there wouldn’t be traffic agents at this pinch point when there’s well over a thousand kids crossing every day is horrible,” Zak Jasie, chairman of Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee, said in reference to Fourth Avenue learning houses IS 136 and MS 821, Sunset Park Prep.

Last summer, leaders of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority requested Police Department agents monitor traffic along the avenue between 40th and 60th streets, ahead of planned repair work to subway tunnels on the N and R lines and at the 59th Street station.

Reps for the Transportation Authority told CB7 members in August the agency would work with local police to install the traffic agents before the start of construction, which required closing lanes on Fourth Avenue in order to set up equipment-staging areas, and setting up barriers that narrow the busy road to a single lane at points, occasionally blocking sightlines for motorists and pedestrians.

But no agents were in place when work kicked off later that month, according to the panel’s top staffer.

“They came to us in August and told us they had money in their budget for traffic agents, then the project started and no agents materializ­ed,” said CB7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer.

Laufer, fearing an impending disaster amid what he described as a “traffic mess,” in October wrote to Police Department brass, describing crosswalks on that stretch of Fourth Avenue as “a frightening experience,” and demanding cops heed the state agency’s request for agents to monitor the road.

“The situation is dangerous and intolerable and we fear that our constituents’ lives are in danger because the promised traffic agents have not been assigned,” his letter read.

The CB7 district manager claimed cops never responded to his letter, but Police Department spokesman Lt. John Grimpel told this newspaper that authorities chose not to reassign traffic agents on other posts to Fourth Avenue after surveying the situation, despite the local civic gurus’ and state transit officials’ requests.

Grimpel argued the department lacked the funds necessary to beef up enforcement on Fourth Avenue, but Transportation Authority spokeswoman Amanda Kwan claimed the agency set aside $2.5 million specifically for that purpose.

Kwan added that the authority turns to city officials for enforcement support when its projects affect local streets, because the state agency does not have jurisdiction over those roads.

“We don’t have the ability to enforce traffic such as impose fines,” she said.

Police have not entirely ruled out diverting resources to Fourth Avenue, however, and will continue to liaise with state transit leaders about traffic issue, according to Grimpel.

“We are always willing to talk to our partner agencies regarding community concerns,” he said.

The disconnect between city and state agencies on the Fourth Avenue traffic issue is just the latest example of government officials at all levels failing to properly serve their constituents, according to Jasie.

“It’s a failing of how these situations get dealt with in New York City,” he said. “Somehow the two agencies can’t seem to coordinate. This is indicative of the way things happen in the city, and in Sunset Park.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 4:57 pm, February 15, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Ban personal vehicles in NYC and start congestion pricing. Driving is a privilege, not a right folks.
Feb. 15, 2019, 8:01 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Start penalizing drivers who commit infractions, break the speed limit, and block crosswalks, with extreme measures. The fine should be 50% of the Kelly Blue Book value of the car. Then you watch how fast coming to that full stop at a stop sign and staying under 25mph becomes to drivers.
Feb. 17, 2019, 1:49 am
Flow from Brooklyn says:
Just keep traffic flowing, what ever you do, because if we cannot move, we don't want to be here, what would be the point otherwise. And if cars are not a right, then neither are bikes - which by the way should be licensed like cars for accountability, and if we ban our rights to move independently from a government run ineffective mass transportation system, then how are we going move, better yet - how are we going to move out. So what ever you do, how ever you do it, just keep it flowing because THAT'S THE POINT.
Feb. 17, 2019, 11:33 am
Ms.Me from Bay Ridge says:
FYI -- for people unfamiliar with the neighborhood -- you can cross Fourth Avenue via the mezzanine level of the subway stations at 36th Street and south - -45th,53rd,59th(&60th),69th(Bay Ridge Avenue),77th,86th and 95th Streets.
Feb. 17, 2019, 12:39 pm
Fluid from Brooklyn says:
I agree with Flow, bikes should be ticketed and carry some type of license fee to ride. When learning to ride here in NYC, early nineties, there was a protocol, a set of rules to ride. I see folk riding on sidewalks, in the wrong direction on one-way streets, they run lights, refuse to slow for pedestrians. All of these are reasons to get tickets for $100 plus and these bikers will learn to ride to some rules.
Feb. 17, 2019, 4:35 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
How about having pedestrians wait for the walk signal such as the one shown in the picture and stop them from always jaywalking, which really does place them into harm's way?
Feb. 17, 2019, 7:43 pm
Fluid from Brooklyn says:
What is wrong with you Tal?
Feb. 18, 2019, 8:14 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Fluid, please tell me pedestrians can't just wait for the walk signal and cross at that time especially when that indicates that it's safe to cross the street.
Feb. 18, 2019, 12:54 pm
Fluid Brooklyn says:
Where are you reading this Tal? What is wrong with you?
Feb. 18, 2019, 4:07 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Fluid, I just don't understand the selective outrage that some of you have with motor vehicles when cyclists and pedestrians have a history of disobeying traffic laws as well.
Feb. 18, 2019, 5:52 pm
Fluid from Brooklyn says:
So you’re making it up? Cool.
Feb. 18, 2019, 11:38 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What was I making up? There have been numerous occasions when pedestrians got hit for going against the walk signal. Just like cyclists, when pedestrians aren't following the traffic laws, they are placing themselves into harm's way. In reality, if you really want Vision Zero to work, then all groups have to play their part in following the traffic laws, not just one only. BTW, I was heavily applauded at a Vision Zero hearing a few years ago for saying that.
Feb. 19, 2019, 3:23 pm
BkAnn from Bay Ridge says:
Focus, people. This article is about stationing traffic safety agents at construction sites near two schools in Sunset Park. Clearly the safety of Sunset Park's children is as important as it is anywhere else and this needs to be done NOW. Furthermore, for anyone who drives, bikes or walks anywhere between 40th & 60th streets where the center of 4th Ave has been overtaken by this mess for months now knows that this area needs traffic agent oversight BEFORE there is a tragedy, not headlines after it is too late.
Feb. 19, 2019, 3:24 pm
Fluid from Brooklyn says:
Tal, "numerous occasions" are not data, you dolt.
Feb. 19, 2019, 6:02 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
Hi Jim...such high fines might be unconstitutional.
Feb. 21, 2019, 9:47 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Jim, the 8th amendment of the US Constitution mentions constraints on punishment hence no excessive fines, which means that any fine given must be fitting to what perpetrator committed, though that can be vague at times.
Feb. 23, 2019, 2:32 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: