The Department of Transportation presented the findings [PDF] of its five-year study of transportation in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood at a packed public meeting last night. The massive transportation analysis included many critical projects that have already been announced, such as the 34th Street Select Bus Service route and extensions of the protected bike lanes along Eighth and Ninth Avenue, as well as a full slate of new improvements for the neighborhood, from signal retimings meant to improve pedestrian safety to new plaza space and a continuous sidewalk by the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.
The neighborhood study emerged from a pedestrian safety campaign conducted under the banner of the Ninth Avenue Renaissance, which started in 2006. DOT received federal funding for a study, solicited hundreds of public comments, walked through the neighborhood five times, built a powerful traffic model for the complicated Midtown area and analyzed 86 separate intersections.
Certain improvements were implemented as DOT studied the neighborhood. Leading pedestrian intervals, which give pedestrians time to establish their presence in a crosswalk before traffic gets the green light, were installed at six dangerous intersections, while pedestrian signal times were extended to provide for slower walkers.
Some of the biggest changes within the study area, which runs from 29th Street to 55th Street between Eighth Avenue and the Hudson River, are projects that have already been announced. Select Bus Service along 34th Street will speed bus trips, add new loading space and shorten pedestrian crossing distances with new bus bulbs. The extension of Eighth and Ninth Avenues, by far the two most dangerous corridors for cyclists and pedestrians, according to DOT, is expected to significantly improve safety for all users.
Other improvements, though, will be brand new. Pedestrians will again be able to walk down the west side of Ninth Avenue past the Lincoln Tunnel under DOT’s recommendation. Currently, the sidewalk is interrupted at 36th Street by an unsignalized tunnel entrance. “We would provide a crosswalk and a stop light for the traffic,” said Andrew Lenton, the project manager for the transportation study.
Another sidewalk will be restored around the corner on 36th Street. “Right now, it’s occupied by NYPD vehicles parking on the sidewalk such that you can’t even walk,” said Lenton. Under DOT’s proposal, the sidewalk and parking lane would be turned into green space.
At Ninth Avenue, the two sides of 41st Street don’t quite line up, forcing drivers to maneuver to the right and slowing traffic. By installing what they called a “mini-plaza,” DOT can smooth traffic flow while shortening crossing distances for pedestrians and creating new public space. Read more…