Today’s news:

DOT launches new effort to calm traffic around Cooper Pk.

Cooper Park neighborhood residents have waited a year and a half for the Department of Transportation to find ways to reduce speeding along Maspeth Avenue and several side streets in Williamsburg. Now, it appears the agency is beginning to address their concerns.

Last week, DOT Brooklyn representatives unveiled a detailed traffic−calming presentation at a Community Board 1 Transportation Committee meeting, focused on several key intersections off Metropolitan Avenue in East Williamsburg, two blocks from the Graham Avenue L train stop.

“It’s a popular drag racing spot and an illegal truck route,” said CB 1 Transportation Chair Teresa Toro. “There are no traffic lights there and you can just fly through Maspeth Avenue.”

The proposal aims to shorten several pedestrian crossings on Bushwick and Metropolitan Avenues and on Orient and Metropolitan avenues, and add a pedestrian refuge island on Humboldt, Maspeth and Metropolitan, to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the busy intersections.

After observing the plan, Steven Garrelts of the Cooper Park Neighborhood Association was generally pleased but was concerned that the DOT did not address the traffic speed and flow on Maspeth Avenue.

“The bulk of the issue is a three−quarter mile stretch on Maspeth Avenue between Morgan and Woodpoint. There’s no stop sign, there’s no speed bump, there’s no light and there happens to be a park there,” said Garrelts.

Eighteen months ago, Garrelts and other members of CPNA presented their agenda for reducing neighborhood traffic to the community board, and led Brooklyn DOT representatives on a walking tour of 13 sites in East Williamsburg. The association has had little communication with DOT officials since that time, though Garrelts did mention that he was encouraged by the agency’s recent presentation.

“The way Maspeth Avenue has functioned is that it’s a relief valve for Metropolitan, where traffic can circumvent driving down Metropolitan Avenue in eastbound direction,” said Garrelts. “I think the DOT has never studied that area because they haven’t been asked to study there.”

Toro and other community board members were pleased with the DOT’s response and believes they will work with local residents to find a way to reduce traffic near Cooper Park.

“New residents are adding to the foot traffic and I believe they are willing to revisit studying those intersections,” said Toro.

Karen Leader, a member of Cooper Park Houses Residents Association and Community Board 1, is most concerned about primary school children from P.S. 132 crossing Maspeth Avenue near Kingsland Street while trucks and vehicles speed by during school hours.

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