Yesterday, Red Hook residents gathered at the corner of Van Brunt and Wolcott streets, the intersection where Janett Ramos was struck and killed by a van two weeks ago, to protest what organizer John McGettrick called the Department of Transportation’s “indifference bordering on incompetence” regarding traffic in the once-sleepy neighhborhood. Over 125 people showed up for a vigil for Ramos; afterward, the crowd marched through heavy truck traffic, waving signs and shouting at vehicles to honk in support. At one point a firetruck stopped and firefighters yelled out in support of installing a traffic light at the corner.
John McGettrick, of the Red Hook Civic Association.
According to Mr. McGettrick, the D.O.T. is ignoring the needs of the community, resulting in needless fatalities. The corner where Ramos was killed is one of the busiest intersections in Red Hook, equidistant from the new cruise-ship terminal to the north and the new Fairway grocery store to the south. Residents say that increased traffic from the Fairway is making the street dangerous. A spokeswoman for the D.O.T., contacted after the Ramos’ death, said the department is waiting for the fall before conducting a traffic study, in order for traffic patterns to emerge.
Kids yelling at passing cars: “Please don’t kill us!”
This is in marked contrast to the cruise-ship terminal a few blocks north, where a traffic signal was installed at an intersection that is little used, in an area that is nearly all industrial with little housing, no schools or stores. At Wolcott and Van Brunt, there are several restaurants, bodegas, a public school and other stores, in addition to many residences. Additionally, when a cruise ship is moored at the terminal, police offficers are called in from other precincts to ensure the safety of the ship and its passengers. “We should demand the same,” Mr. McGettrick said of the traffic light.
Before Ramos death, residents pleaded for a traffic light (see The Brooklyn Papers‘ coverage), but the D.O.T. is remaining adamant in its plan to wait untill the fall before taking any action any more than repainting nearby crosswalks (which occurred immediately after Ramos’ death).
When asked what would happen if the D.O.T. did not take immediate action to mitigate the traffic situation, Mr. McGettrick said, “We’ll all be out here again until they do. We’re hopeful that the Mayor’s office will become aware.”