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DOT to Install Traffic Light at 15th Street and Other Safety Improvements at Bartel-Pritchard Square

During a joint CB6 and CB7 meeting on Thursday night, the Department of Transportation revealed their proposed plan to make Bartel-Pritchard Square safer for all users.

The Department of Transportation wants to make crossing Bartel-Pritchard Square safer. With a plan they revealed to Community Boards 6 and 7 on Thursday night, they might do exactly that.

The biggest change to Bartel-Pritchard Square is almost complete: the installation of a traffic light at 15th Street inside the circle. It will be fully complete by the end of this weekend, a DOT spokesman said during the meeting.

The rest of the changes, which can be found below, will most likely be implemented in 2013, due to DOT’s full schedule of projects through the end of the year.

The rest of the changes are as follows:

  • Three lanes will remain between Prospect Park West and 15th Street, the inside lane to go around the circle and two outside lanes to make a right onto 15th Street.
  • However, after 15th Street the number of lanes will be reduced to two. One lane will run all the way around the circle and the other lane is to make right turns only.

The DOT said that the reason for the lane reduction is because with three lanes, usually there are two lanes that turn right at the same time and cause a pedestrian hazard. With at least one pedestrian injured in the circle a year, they believe reducing two turning lanes to one will make it safer for all users.

More changes to the circle:

  • They will move the B61 bus stop from inside the circle between Ninth Avenue (Prospect Park West in Windsor Terrace) and Prospect Park Southwest to the corner of Ninth Avenue and the traffic circle.
  • The four spaces on Ninth Avenue where the new B61 stop will be located will be moved to the where the B61 bus stop is now inside the circle.
  • One parking space, between 15th Street and Ninth Avenue in the circle, will disappear and be made a space for pedestrian refuge.
  • A new crosswalk from 15th Street to Bartel-Pritchard Square will be installed after the light goes in and then the DOT will repaint all the other crosswalks connecting the square to the street surrounding the circle.  
  • The distance from the circle to the street will also be reduced a little because of the reduction of one lane all the way around.
  • They will make the turn onto 15th Street sharper by installing a curb extension to be used as a pedestrian’s space. This will act as a traffic calming technique because cars will have to slow down to make the turn on to 15th Street.
  • They will also adjust light timings with new signal at 15th Street to make traffic flow smoother.

Community Board 7 did not vote on the plan. Jeremy Laufer, CB7 District Manager, said that they have more questions that need to be answered before they vote.  

However, Community Board 6 unanimously approved the plan.

Tom Miskel, the chair of CB6’s Transportation Committee, said the plan sounds great.

“This one is way overdue. It’s a real bottleneck and people speed on Prospect Park West to make the turn on 15th Street,” Miskel said, explaining that 15th Street is a conduit for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. “But now, the drivers will have to wait at the red light at 15th Street and pedestrians will be able to cross safely.”

Doug Gordon, the founder of the website Brooklyn Spoke, said he also likes the plan.

“I think it is a great proposal and takes everyone’s safety — bikers, cars and pedestrians — into consideration,” Gordon said. “I think it will bring a little more order and make traffic flow more predictable.”

Miskel added that the biggest change to the circle is the traffic light at 15th Street.

“People have been complaining about this for 10 years now,” Miskel said. “Now, they will have what they want.”

Eric McClure June 23, 2012 at 04:31 AM
One correction - only the rightmost lane from PPW to 15th will be for turns. The other two lanes will continue through the circle.
Steve LeVine June 23, 2012 at 03:02 PM
I honestly think a light (and crosswalk) at 15th St. are not just a waste, but a big mistake. There are already two means of crossing the road to BT Square. A traffic light there is going to back up traffic and I think cause more problems. (I've seen this happen after the changes at Park Circle a few years ago.) Yes, I see way too many people not yield to pedestrians crossing 15th St. but I'm not sure the light will help much. Also, I kind of understand the adjustment of the lanes but the problem is all the drivers do not know how to navigate a traffic circle in general. I cannot be confident the sudden elimination of a lane that causes drivers less than a second to react is going to help.
Sally June 23, 2012 at 06:17 PM
The traffic light at 15th Street will prevent pedestrians from being hit by cars. It's a great idea. Drivers will get used to it.
Eric McClure June 23, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Steve, The light will absolutely help peds at 15th Street, because they previously have not had a signal phase there to themselves. And DOT is taking steps to increase the angles of turns into 15th, so that will slow vehicles. Traffic through the circle shouldn't be made worse, since signal timings will be adjusted to help smooth traffic flow. And if there are unforeseen issues, those can always be adjusted.
Stephie June 24, 2012 at 02:32 AM
In addition to installing additional lights and pedestran refuge, DOT, along with the local Precinct, should be very concerned about speeding vehicles on the side streets in an attempt to "make" the light or in some instances just speeding to a red light. Cyclists riding the wrong way on the side streets as well as on the sidewalks, and motorists speeding on the side streets, create very hazardous conditions for pedestrians. This condition needs to be addressed and not ignored as it is now.
Rick Oshea June 24, 2012 at 11:23 AM
I'm glad they finally addressed the problem which left pedestrians in fear of crossing 15th street. I personally think a stop sign would have been better to force all cars to stop. Now as Stephie mentioned drivers will speed up to make the light. A stop sign would slow the overall pace down and that would be a good thing.
ScottRAB June 25, 2012 at 04:54 PM
As long as it remains a traffic circle and is not converted to a modern roundabout, you will continue to have the same problems.
ScottRAB June 25, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Yeah, 'cause pedestrians are never hit by motorists at a red light.
mhorine1 June 26, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Unfortunately, most drivers don't seem to realize the RHL is the only lane for turns. Same problem turning onto PPSW. I see 3 lanes of traffic trying to all turn right onto PPSW frequently.
Eric McClure June 26, 2012 at 05:45 PM
mhorine1, that's one of the key problems this plan will address. DOT will install flexible bollards along with paint on the roadway to channelize cars, so that drivers will only be able to turn from the turning lanes. That should go a long way to prevent dangerous turns from the middle of the circle.

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