Update on the DOT plan to change South End Avenue

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June 5, 2013- By Steven E. Greer

The June 4th CB1 meeting delivered an update on the DOT studies that will result in design changes to South End Avenue and West Thames Street. First, the most recent traffic study has been completed and is being analyzed. The DOT will beet with the CB1 and interested public on June 17th. At that time, it should be known whether a series of traffic lights will be installed, as were done rapidly on North End and Murray, near Goldman Sachs. The formal decision by DOT should be known at the end of this month, according to CB1’s Evan Lacher.

Update May 29, 2013– The joint session of the CB1 passed the resolution supporting Margaret Chin’s plan to make Battery Park City a slow zone. An amendment was made to submit applications for the entire BPC rather than two separate north and south applications.

Update May 7, 2013- At the CB1 meeting tonight, a staffer for City Councilwoman Margaret Chin announced that her office is willing to help even more with the dangerous streets in Battery Park City. Her office will endorse an application to designate much of BPC as a “slow zone“, which are special areas within the city that have speed bumps, and 20 MPH speed limits. This would be in addition to the ongoing City DOT plans to install possible traffic lights.

Update April 3, 2013

The monthly CB1 meeting on April 2nd, held at the Library on North End Avenue, provided some positive updates on the DOT efforts to reduce the pedestrian dangers on South End Avenue and West Thames. The Community Board met with the DOT and began discussing specific plans to slow down traffic before the DOT studies are concluded that might result in the installation of street lights. One possibility mentioned was to place large concrete planters in the medians of the streets, but the question of maintenance and aesthetics was raised. In other areas of the city, they have become littered with trash and unsightly.

Regarding the funds needed to install more permanent measures, such as a traffic light, a representative from City Council Member Margaret Chin’s office emphasized their willingness to help lobby city and Albany officials, if needed.  CB1 staffer Evan Lacher mentioned again that the DOT seems motivated to accomplish something soon, before the current term of Mayor Bloomberg ends.

The next step will be another meeting in in May between the DOT and CB1. Currently, the input from the community is coming solely from CB1 member Tammy Meltzer and the subcommittee created to handle the process. To participate in the next meeting, contact Mr. Lacher at (212) 788-7752 or elacher@cb.nyc.gov

January 15, 2013 By Steven E Greer, MD

At the CB1 meeting tonight, ironically held at the public library on North End Ave by the newly installed traffic lights that went up in record pace, the topic of the unsafe street crossings on West Thames and South End Avenue arose. There were approximately 10 members of the community in attendance, which is greater than normal. This meeting was requested by BatteryPark.TV. In fact, the entire topic has been on the CB1 agenda only after BP.TV reported on the accident at West Thames last October.

In attendances was City DOT official Joshua Kraus. He started with a slide projector presentation of how the city performs street traffic audits and determines whether changes are needed. He was asked whether past audits ranked very close to the criteria for installing a traffic light. He said that the intersections IMG_0180at Rector Place and South End “Did not even come close (to meriting a traffic light)” and that South End and West Thames was “Not close” either.

Mr. Kraus then proceeded to show drawings of possible changes to the medians of South End and West Thames that would prevent dangerous U-turns, and slow down traffic. The city has been installing gravel-pavement areas over what once were dangerous areas of vehicle traffic. He said that such pavement changes could be made rapidly.

Regarding whether actual traffic lights would be installed, the city is still insisting that more lengthy traffic audits will be required, despite evidence to the contrary. The traffic lights on Murray Street and North End Ave, by Goldman Sachs, were erected within 60-days last year. Mr. Kraus explained that the DOT was ready to commence new traffic studies soon, but astonishingly, the CB1 members wanted to postpone these until the Fall of 2013. The explanation from the board was that more students would be at school once the new Montessori day nursery opens on South End.

The lack of urgency by Anthony Notaro, Chairman of the CB1 BPC committee, over dealing with the street safety issues has been demonstrated in many ways. Last month, the DOT did not attend the CB1 meeting because, as Mr. Notaro explained at that meeting, the post-Hurricane-Sandy issues elsewhere in the city were too pressing for the DOT. Also, as mentioned above, the most recent CB1 agendas on the topic were initiated by BP.TV, via email to Mr. Notaro, and not by the CB1 board.

In a strange reversal of typical dealings with the city, the DOT official, Mr. Kraus, was actually more willing to act on the pedestrian safety matters, more quickly, than the CB1 board was. Mr. Kraus recommend that the CB1 revisit the topic at the meeting next month, at which time he might be able to announce that some changes could be instituted long before a Fall 2013 “audit”.

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