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A highly anticipated installation at the Flatbush Trees will happen May 18 through May 22, artist Dave Eppley told Community Board 9 last week. Eppley has been working for the last six months with students at a nearby school to design flower bouquets made out of sign vinyl that will be applied to the dilapidated 1970s-era tree sculptures, located at the intersection of Ocean Avenue, Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard, right across from Prospect Park.

Apparently made of concrete and some other weather-impervious material, the tree-shaped sculptures also serve as a street signs and mark a park entrance.

A sign maker by trade as well as an installation artist, Eppley said he does not expect the decorations to last more than a few years, and that is intentional. “I hope another artist will adopt [the Trees] as their own in a year or two,” and do something else with them, he said.

President, 7th, 8th Ave, Composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

One of the fun parts of writing this particular column is matching a vintage photo or postcard to its present-day site. Sometimes a perfect match is possible, and other times, the scenery has changed so much, it’s impossible to tell exactly where a building or event was located. The clues or markers that place or date a photo just don’t exist any longer. But that’s not the case here.

The historic photograph was taken in late February or early March of 1906 on President Street, between 7th and 8th avenues. This is the north side of the street, closer to 8th Avenue. The men are tearing up the sidewalk area to lay down new sidewalks and curbs.

My vintage photo had a caption, President Street, 1906, which narrowed down the street and date. A bit of research turned up public notices in the Brooklyn Eagle announcing road and sewer work throughout the borough, as well as the “regulating, grading, curbing, flagging and laying cement sidewalks” on many blocks, as well.

The paving and road work were spread out with great planning, so traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, could get around without too much difficulty. The notices began appearing at the end of February, 1906, and continued through March. One by one, block by block, the city infrastructure was improved. (more…)

vision zero brooklyn

The Department of Transportation released its Vision Zero plan to improve pedestrian safety across Brooklyn today. The plan calls for safety improvements at 50 high-traffic corridors and 91 intersections throughout the borough. New safety measures include increasing pedestrian crossing times, installing more speed-limit signs, creating more neighborhood slow zones, and changing traffic signals to reduce speeding during off-peak hours.

The DOT also plans to install 60 new speed bumps annually throughout Brooklyn and add more lighting underneath elevated train tracks. And there will be more speed cameras and enforcement at busy intersections. Apparently Brooklyn averages 46 pedestrian deaths each year — the highest of any borough. Read the summary or the full report over on the DOT’s Vision Zero page.

williamsburg bridge axel taferner 92013

Former transit commissioner Sam Schwartz will present transit group MoveNY’s plan to charge tolls on East River bridges tomorrow at a public forum in Downtown Brooklyn. Neighborhood groups, community boards, and elected officials are organizing the forum to discuss how to reduce congestion in Downtown Brooklyn and Brownstone Brooklyn, modernize and expand the mass transit system, and fix roads and bridges.

Members of the public will be invited to discuss the proposal in breakout sessions after the presentation. The town hall meeting will take place from 6 to 8 pm at the Brooklyn YWCA at 30 3rd Avenue. RSVP or find out more details here.

Yay or Nay to Tolls on the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges? [Brownstoner]

Photo by Axel Taferner

brooklyn-bridge-091213

If transit group Move NY has its way, moving between boroughs via car will become dramatically more expensive. The group is pushing to revive its failed plan to charge a toll of $5.54 in each direction when crossing the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. (The plan also calls for a toll on the Queensboro Bridge, as well as crossing 60th Street in Manhattan or taking the West Side Highway or FDR, and to lower tolls slightly where they already exist.) What do you think of the idea?

Transit Group Would Add Tolls to Four New York Bridges [NY Times]
Proposal to Add Tolls on Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg Bridges [Eagle]
Photo by Anne Holmes

caton avenue and east 7th street

Last week, the DOT unveiled a lengthy list of street changes to improve pedestrian safety in Kensington, including slow zones, one-way streets, improved signage, speed bumps and high-visibility crosswalks. Local parents and politicians were particularly concerned about safety at the soon-to-open P.S./I.S. 437 campus at Caton Avenue and East 7th Street (the corner shown above), where a hit-and-run driver struck and killed a 14-year-old boy in November.

Ditmas Park Corner and DNAinfo both wrote about the packed meeting last week at P.S. 130, which was attended by Councilman Brad Lander, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Councilman Jumaane Williams, among others. By the end of the summer, the DOT is expected to implement curb extensions at East 7th and East 8th streets on Caton Avenue, convert East 7th and East 8th streets to one-way streets, and reduce speed on Caton Avenue, according to Ditmas Park Corner. You can also see the full DOT presentation here [PDF].

Major Safety Upgrades Planned for Area Roads; Hundreds Attend Meeting [DPC]
Kensington Street Safety Upgrades Will Be “Dramatic Improvement,” DOT Says [DNA]
Photo by DOT

atlantic and washington avenue DOT

The Department of Transportation wants to make the three-way intersection of Atlantic, Washington and Underhill Avenues less dangerous for pedestrians with some safety improvements. DNAinfo reported on the agency’s presentation to Community Boards 2 and 8, both of which must approve the proposal for changes to be made.

The intersection is on the border of Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights. The plan calls for:

*Shortening crosswalks by building larger median islands.

*Building a new crosswalk between Lowry Triangle, which sits between Washington and Underhill avenues, and the north side of Atlantic Avenue. There will also be a new crosswalk between the east side of Washington and the small triangle in the middle of the street.

*Increasing the length of crossing signals and delaying traffic lights to give pedestrians more time to cross.

*Restricting left turns from Washington Avenue to Atlantic Avenue and from Atlantic Avenue to Underhill Avenue.

Do you think these ideas will work?

Pedestrian Safety Measures Proposed for Dangerous Atlantic Avenue Crossing [DNA]
Image via DOT

pulaski-bridge-bike-lanes

Construction on the Pulaski Bridge bike lanes has been pushed back once again. Streetsblog reported that the protected bike lanes, originally scheduled to finish this year, likely won’t open until the end of 2015. Last week, we reported construction would wrap in the spring.

Then the DOT gave a presentation [PDF] on the project and said the contractor will start work in April and continue through October or November. Pedestrians and bikers currently share the crowded walking paths, but the DOT plans to convert one lane of Brooklyn-bound traffic to a two-way bike lane.

Officials blamed the delays on the engineering of the 60-year-old drawbridge, which can’t support an additional concrete barrier, and the fact that funding for the bike lanes is tied to work on 10 other bridge projects that needed approval first. The cost of the improvements has also increased from $3,460,000 to $4,200,000.

At least the DOT has finalized a design, which will include textured rumble strips at both entrances to the bridge reminding cyclists to slow down.

Pulaski Bridge Bike Path Now Scheduled to Open by End of 2015 [Streetsblog]
Pulaski Bridge Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering via DOT

pulaski-bridge-bike-lanes

The Department of Transportation plans to “launch” the long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bike lane project at a community meeting tomorrow. The DOT will present its plans at 6 pm at MoMA P.S. 1 at 22-25 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.

Last we heard about the Pulaski bike lanes, construction was delayed until sometime next year. But last month, the DOT announced that it had found a contractor and work would wrap by spring 2015. When it’s finished, there will be a two-way bike lane and a dedicated pedestrian lane. To create the bike lane, the agency will cut three lanes of Brooklyn-bound traffic to two lanes.

Rendering via DOT

barclays-120914

Hundreds staged die-ins in front of Barclays and Target last night as Prince William and Kate took in a Nets game to protest the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case. Target closed early, cops blocked the Atlantic Center Mall, and the subway stop there was shut down just as the game let out, according to Tweets and news reports.

Nets and Cleveland Cavelier players wore “I Can’t Breathe” tshirts. Russell Simmons chatted with protesters outside Barclays during the game, then tweeted “I am deeply inspired by all of the young people who are marching for justice. You are leading this country to a much better place.”

Was anyone there?

LeBron Wears an “I Can’t Breathe” Shirt at Barclays Center [NY Post]
Protesters Converge on Barclays Center [WSJ]
Eric Garner Protesters Set for Barclays Brouhaha [Eagle]
Eric Garner Protests Held Outside Barclays Center [7 Online]
Demonstrators Protest Eric Garner Decision Outside Barclays Center [DNA]
Photo via Ustream

putnam plaza proposal 1

The Department of Transportation has released three proposals for the design of Clinton Hill’s Putnam Triangle Plaza. The designs came out of public workshops convened by the Fulton Area Business Alliance.

The green space opened three years ago and is bordered by Fulton Street, Grand Avenue and Putnam Avenue. Neighbors said they wanted space for a green market, a drinking fountain, a concession kiosk, bike racks and plantings that buffered noise from traffic.

Architects Thomas Balsey Associates, the Fulton Area Business Alliance and the DOT presented the first round of designs at a meeting Wednesday.

Fixing up the 15,000-square-foot space will cost roughly $3,750,000, according to the DOT. Take a look at the presentation to learn more about each proposal as well as a FAQ sheet on the project. The rendering above shows the first design option, and you can click through to see layouts and renderings for the other two.

What do you think of the proposals?

Putnam Triangle Plaza Coverage [Brownstoner] 
Renderings via DOT

(more…)

putnam triangle plaza

The Fulton Area Business Alliance is hosting its second meeting tonight about redesigning the Putnam Triangle Plaza, currently a makeshift public space surrounded by Putnam Avenue, Fulton Street and Grand Avenue in Clinton Hill. Residents can stop by anytime between 6 and 8 pm to discuss how they want to improve the plaza and to review design concepts created at the last meeting in September. It’ll happen at the Grace Agard Harewood Neighborhood Senior Center, located at 966 Fulton Street between Grand Avenue and Cambridge Place.

Putnam Triangle Plaza Coverage [Brownstoner]

Image via FAB