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Mayor Adams Signs Off On Compromise for Deadly McGuinness Blvd.; No One Truly Happy

There will be a protected bike lane on McGuinness Boulevard. But beyond that...

5:59 PM EDT on August 16, 2023

A cyclist takes his chance on McGuinness Boulevard. Photo: Kevin Duggan

There will be protected bike lanes on McGuinness Boulevard.

The city will move ahead with a long-promised redesign of Brooklyn's deadly McGuinness Boulevard, after Mayor Adams approved a watered-down plan following opposition by a local business and campaign donor who got the sympathetic ear of close mayoral adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin.

As originally planned by the Department of Transportation, the city will install a curbside protected bike lane on the deadly boulevard and reduce the car lanes from two to one in each direction on most of the strip. And while there will still be a protected bike lane in the section closer to the industrial zone north of Calyer Street, the city will maintain two lanes open to automobile traffic from 7 a.m.–7 p.m. on weekdays, and turn one on each side into parking lanes on nights and weekends.

DOT had originally planned a full-time road diet on all of McGuinness Boulevard, which would not only have added the permanently protected bike lane along the curb, but also shortened pedestrian crossings, while also adding loading zones on each block to help businesses.

The revision mixes two of the three options that DOT presented to Community Board 1 last year (see below), i.e. plan A north of Calyer and the originally preferred plan B for the remainder south to Meeker Avenue.

DOT had chosen Plan B to redesign McGuinness, but now also will include Plan A north of Greenpoint Avenue. Graphic: DOT

After input from frequent street redesign saboteur Lewis-Martin, Adams reversed course in July and sent DOT back to the drawing board to come up with a compromise.

Hizzoner's back-pedal came after lobbying against the redesign by the politically connected Argento family, which owns the filming company Broadway Stages.

DOT planners came up with a watered-down alternative earlier this month to keep both lanes open to cars and trucks north of Greenpoint Avenue, but officials now extended that change a block south to Calyer.

Amid likely criticism of the capitulation to the Argento-funded "Keep McGuinness Moving" group over the grassroots effort "Make McGuinness Safe," mayoral spokesman Charles Lutvak issued a statement:

“Traffic safety is a key priority for Mayor Adams, and we are delivering with a redesign of McGuinness Boulevard that will make this corridor safer for all road users," he said. "Too many New Yorkers have been injured or lost their lives on McGuinness Boulevard [and] this project will calm traffic, create protected bike lanes, and better accommodate everyone traveling through this neighborhood. The Adams administration has continuously listened to members of this community and updated our design accordingly, and we are committed to beginning work on this project before school starts in early September.”

The criticism was initially muted.

“While the new plan does not include every element that we have advocated for or was part of the DOT’s announcement in May, we believe it’s a critical step in the right direction and represents the most significant safety interventions on McGuinness Boulevard since Robert Moses expanded the road 70 years ago. Our offices will push for swift implementation in the weeks and months ahead," read a joint statement by the area's elected officials, including Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, Senator Kristen Gonzalez, Council Member Lincoln Restler and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.

The Keep McGuinness Moving group later issued a statement that called the compromise "rushed," and demanded more delays for more "study."

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio promised a $40-million redesign of blood-soaked McGuinness after beloved local teacher Matthew Jensen was killed in a hit-and-run while crossing the chaotic corridor in 2021.

Many drivers use the roughly mile-long speedway bisecting north Brooklyn as a shortcut between the Long Island Expressway and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The once-residential Oakland Street had been widened (and renamed) in the 1950s to accommodate cars and serve the new highways.

The carnage didn't stop for Adams's deliberations.

Since Jensen's death there have been 152 serious crashes injuring 62 people on the road — nearly three every month, according to city stats.

A driver slammed into a 20-year-old moped rider at McGuinness and Meeker Avenue last week after trying to flee a fender-bender and crashing into several parked cars during his rampage.

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