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Brooklyn Residents Want 'Hazardous' Traffic Islands Gone

NEW YORK (1010 WINS/ CBS 2) -- Snow isn't the only neighborhood nuisance many residents want removed from a street in Brooklyn. They want the city to jackhammer newly installed traffic islands they say are wreaking traffic havoc.

At the corner of 46th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway -- just two blocks from a major hospital -- residents say they're dealing with the tyranny of good intentions.


 LISTEN: 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reports

The traffic islands that are intended to improve safety, they say, are a threat that they want ripped out, reports CBS 2's Tony Aiello.

For some, the new traffic islands provide a place of safety while crossing the street.

"I think it's really nice, because you can cross it without any incident," Borough Park resident Amina Khan said.

"When I've been in the middle, you feel a little protected," Max Heinrich of Flatbush added.

For others, though, the islands have become an unwanted obstacle, causing traffic backups that delay fire trucks and ambulances heading to nearby Maimonides Medical Center.

"My friend's daughter needed to go to the hospital, and the ambulance could not get through," Borough Park resident Henche Schonblum said.

On Thursday, Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Borough President Marty Markowitz didn't mince words.

"This situation is an absolute disaster. It is endangering the lives of people," Hikind said.

The Parkway once had three lanes -- two for traffic and one for middle for turns, emergency vehicles and truck deliveries -- but now it's down to two.

"It's nuts. This has little to do with pedestrian safety or senior citizen safety," Markowitz said.

Markowitz added the median is part of Mayor Bloomberg's larger agenda: "to narrow the roads, take away parking and try to force residents out of automobiles."

The local lawmakers joined a handful of local seniors on Thursday to demand the City remove the traffic islands.

In November, CBS 2 aired video showing a fire truck struggling to turn onto Fort Hamilton Parkway past the concrete island. An ambulance was even forced to travel in the oncoming lane because of a backup at the island.

"I think we should take a deep breath and take some time to see how it's working," Borough Park City Councilman Brad Lander said.

Councilman Lander supported installing the islands, and he said a few tweaks – such as installing "No Parking" zones near the island – are helping.

"Maybe there are a few more changes we can make to balance it best, so it works for pedestrians, so it works for emergency vehicles," he said.

Residents say some of that tweaking is causing additional trouble by eliminating parking spots, making it that much more difficult for area merchants.

The City Department of Transportation, though, says the pedestrian islands are a proven way to improve pedestrian safety in a neighborhood where three seniors have been hit and killed crossing the street in the last few years.

The DOT has so far given every indication that the islands are here to stay.

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