Testimony of Sam Schwartz on Car-Free Prospect Park
April 21, 1998
The Sam Schwartz Company
I am a registered professional engineer, a life long resident of Brooklyn and have lived near Prospect Park, on three different sides, for nearly 30 years. I currently live on the Flatbush side of the park.
I am also a member of the Prospect Park Alliance and Transportation Alternatives. For nearly twenty years I was a traffic engineer with the city of New York and held the positions of Deputy Commissioner in charge of traffic operations and chief engineer for the entire department. I retired from city government in 1990. Currently I am president of my own consulting company, the Sam Schwartz Company, professor of engineering at Cooper Union and write the Gridlock Sam column for the New York Daily News.
I am thoroughly familiar with Prospect Park and the surrounding streets and the traffic patterns throughout this part of Brooklyn. I was the engineer who converted the left lane of the park into a bike and jogging lane. I closed the exit to Parkside Avenue, developed the plans to close the entrance at Lincoln Road and protected the closing hours of the park. Many predicted these closings would cause massive traffic congestion. With proper engineering they had minimal impact on the traffic network.
I fully support a two-month Auto-Free Prospect Park Trial Period this July and August to help determine the actual effects of closing the park to cars. I know many in the community are concerned about the diversion of traffic to local streets. The morning diversion of traffic will be spread out over several routes. Drivers from Flatbush now have added capacity on the Prospect Expressway and Gowanus since the interchange has been improved and an extra lane has been added for Gowanus HOV's with E-Z Pass. Those motorists coming directly to Park Circle can use Parkside Avenue to Ocean Avenue to Flatbush Avenue. These are significant routes and can be improved through signal timing, parking restrictions, pavement markings and other traffic measures.
In the evening, more traffic is now able to leave Manhattan via the Battery Tunnel since the introduction of E-ZPass. From the Battery Tunnel motorists can bypass the Park by using the Prospect Expressway. Should they decide to take Flatbush Ave or Vanderbilt Avenue to Grand Army Plaza they have two choices: the reverse of the morning route- Flatbush Ave to Ocean Ave to Parkside Avenue (although many will remain on Ocean Ave), or Prospect Park West to Bartel Pritchard Square to Prospect Park Southwest to Park Circle. With some changes in signal timing and other traffic measures, these routes should be able to adequately handle the diverted traffic.
As you can tell by my affiliations and residency I am not running away. I offer my assistance to the city in further adding to the serenity of Prospect Park.