NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- New York City's Department of Transportation has struck again.
The agency has installed traffic islands on Fort Hamilton Parkway -- a busy road in Borough Park. Residents say the cement addition is causing chaos on the street, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reports exclusively.
Ladder 114 was rushing to a recent fire in Borough Park when it ran smack dab into a new cement traffic island installed by the DOT. In a situation where seconds count, it lost valuable time trying to negotiate the island -- and that's just the beginning.
Members of the community said their biggest worry is that ambulances rushing to Maimonides Hospital won't be able to get by.
"People have heart attacks when minutes are involved, could be dying in the ambulance and they have to stand here and wait because the city wants to make this foolish lane here," said Rabbi William Handler of the Borough Park West Community Association.
"The irony of the whole thing is that they are packaging this as a life-saving project, but in effect they are doing just the opposite," said Rabbi Chaim Israel of Community Planning Board 12.
And speaking of irony, Kramer was interviewing DOT Assistant Commissioner Ryan Russo about that very issue of safety when an ambulance -- on an emergency run -- came down the street.
Traffic and the barricade made the street impassable, so what did the ambulance driver do? He had no choice but to pull into the opposite lane, swerving around the barricade and moving against on-coming traffic to rush to the hospital.
Kramer: "Does that trouble you at all?"
Russo: "I think the ambulance, you know, made it through the intersection."
Kramer: "How could that possibly be safe, what we just saw?"
Russo: "I can't speak for the decision that the driver made."
Kramer: "I just want to know having watched what that guy did if you think that that defines a safe way to do it?"
Russo: "We're committed to making sure that the street, the traffic flows and emergency vehicles flow as good as or better than it was before."
Kramer: "But how was that safe?"
Russo: "We're working to make sure that the street is safe."
Commissioner Russo also said the DOT received community board approval. The board, however, said no way.
"They told us it's a fait accompli," Rabbi Israel said. "I believe they are shoving this project down our throats."
The island also makes it difficult for school buses to get by, small businesses are losing customers and stores can't get deliveries. The owner of a local bakery had to park his truck on the sidewalk in order to load it.
The Hatzolah Ambulance Corps sent a letter to the community board Monday begging them to get the city to remove the barricades. The group's senior coordinator said, "They are making it impossible for our emergency vehicles to safely pass."
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