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Lander: NYS DOT Rejected Improvements to Deadly Brooklyn Intersection

Eugene Agbimson, brother-in-law of Ngozi Agbim, called for changes to the intersection where she was killed and to laws regulating truck travel in NYC. Photo: Office of City Council Member Brad Lander

Safety measures proposed for a crash-prone Brooklyn intersection where a senior was killed by a truck driver this week were rejected by New York State DOT, according to City Council Member Brad Lander.

Joined by local residents, traffic safety advocates and family of Ngozi Agbim, Lander held a rally this morning at Ocean Parkway and Church Avenue, at the terminus of the Prospect Expressway, in Kensington. With nine lanes of north-south traffic and five lanes east-west, there were 36 pedestrian and cyclist injuries and four fatalities at the intersection between 1995 and 2008, according to Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign ranks Ocean Parkway as one of the most dangerous streets in Brooklyn, citing six pedestrian fatalities between 2009 and 2011.

Lander included a line item for improvements to the intersection among his FY 2013 participatory budget proposals, securing $200,000. But he says the State DOT rejected a proposal from NYC DOT for a pedestrian refuge between northbound and southbound traffic. Instead, according to Lander, NYS DOT wants to eliminate the crosswalk altogether.

"Without the crosswalk, residents would have to walk a block out of their way and wait for three crossing signals instead of one," said Lander, via press release. "Cars would speed by even faster. And many pedestrians would certainly still cross there anyway, far more exposed to speed, danger, and future tragedies."

On Monday at approximately 9:40 a.m., Agbim, 73, was crossing nine lanes of traffic east to west when she was struck by a semi truck driver who was attempting a right turn from Church Avenue onto Prospect Expressway, according to reports.

Agbim died at the scene. The truck driver, Eric Turnbach of Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania, was cited for failure to exercise due care, the Daily News said.

Trucks exceeding 55 feet in length are not allowed on surface streets without a permit. Video from the scene indicated that the trailer of Turnbach’s truck was 53 feet long. It is not known if the truck was equipped with crossover mirrors, which give truck drivers a better view of pedestrians who are directly in front of them. Trucks registered outside New York are exempt from the state’s crossover mirror requirement.

Central Pennsylvania Transportation, the Lancaster-based company that owns the truck, did not respond to a request for comment.

"We just do not understand how is it that a God fearing and loving mother would die in such a manner walking back from a church service,” said Eugene Agbimson, Agbim's brother-in-law. Agbimson called for changes to the intersection and to laws "governing the operation of these monster vehicles very close to highly populated residential areas."

Said Lander: “New York State DOT’s proposal is unacceptable. It would make this intersection even more dangerous. Our neighborhood is not a highway.” Lander has posted a petition aimed at prodding NYS DOT to act on proposed safety measures.

"We voted for this money," said Julie Bero, a lifelong resident of Kensington. "We should be able to cross this intersection safely and New York State Department of Transportation should make it a priority."

Streetsblog has a message in with NYS DOT. We'll update this post if we hear back.

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