070208fourthave.jpgPhoto looking northernly along 4th Avenue, courtesy Designing the 21st Century Street.

Transportation Alternatives [T.A.] has issued an open call for new designs for the heavily-trafficked intersection of 4th Avenue and 9th Street in Brooklyn, at the western edge of Park Slope. Called “Designing the 21st Century Street,” the competition is wholly theoretical and not part of any actual city plan, but the winning prizes are very real, ranging from $2,000 to $6,000.

According to T.A., the idea is to create a new “complete street” concept for the city, one that can safely accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, trucks and cars. “Cities in the 21st Century are competing to be the greenest, most livable, most sustainable places possible, and we can’t do that until we have better streets,” says Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. Since the area tends to get flooded during heavy rains, designers should seriously consider banning autos and bringing in the municipal riverboats.

The 4th Avenue and 9th Street intersection has a number of unsavory elements, such as a median that’s been shaved away to create dedicated turning lanes; according to the project’s website this violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and also endangers children and elderly, who struggle to make it across the street in the allotted time. The intersection's also loud and dreary-looking, falling far short of borough president Marty Markowitz's five-year-old boast about 4th Avenue becoming "a grand boulevard of the 21st Century" to rival Park Avenue.