DOT Takes Steps to Improve Ped Safety Near Park Avenue Tunnel

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The pedestrian crossing at Park and 33rd before the implementation of new safety measures.

Last night, DOT closed both lanes of the Park Avenue Tunnel to prepare for the construction of safety upgrades at Park and 33rd Street. That's the intersection where southbound cars exit the tunnel, creating a dangerous blend of speeding vehicles and poor sight lines. From 1995 to 2005, 156 pedestrians and 10 cyclists were struck by cars there, according to CrashStat.

DOT is putting in sidewalk extensions and pedestrian refuges, which it expects to complete by Wednesday. Afterwards, the southbound lane of the tunnel will remain closed. DOT is billing the lane closure as a trial that may become permanent after the agency measures the impact on pedestrian safety and traffic.

"A combination of high speeds, bad sightlines and dense walking traffic have made this a perennially hazardous crossing," Transportation Alternatives' Wiley Norvell said of the 33rd Street intersection, which sits in the midst of several subway entrances. "166 crashes in a 10 year period is an indication that this intersection is failing, and we applaud the DOT for taking steps to reduce the number of pedestrians struck here."

A pedestrian refuge is also being installed at 40th Street, the other tunnel entrance. More details from DOT about the improvements after the jump. 

Starting August 3rd at 10 p.m., the Park Avenue tunnel will be closed to traffic in both directions and barriers will be installed to direct traffic onto the surface lanes of Park Avenue and 40th Street. Work is expected to be complete on Wednesday, Aug. 6th, when southbound traffic will remain diverted to surface lanes at 40th Street, and a single northbound lane will reopen at 33rd Street.

At Park and 33rd, DOT will construct a nine-foot extension to the sidewalk at the southeast corner and a 10-foot pedestrian island at the south crosswalk, shortening the distance that pedestrians need to cross by 20% -- from 94 feet to 75 feet. Pedestrian crossing on the north side of this intersection will remain prohibited.

As part of the project, DOT will build an eight-foot pedestrian island in the south crosswalk at the tunnel entrance at Park and 40th. And below 33rd Street, the southbound lanes will be restriped to account for the removal of the tunnel lane.

Image: Google Street View