Plans Unveiled to Improve Safety of Delancey Street
It is Manhattan’s version of the “Boulevard of Death.” Manhattan’s version of Queens Boulevard. The point where the Williamsburg Bridge empties onto Delancey Street. The place where pedestrians race across a stretch of nine lanes in some spots to beat a traffic light that doesn’t give pedestrians nearly enough time to cross.
With the number of accidents on Delancey Street on the rise, the Department of Transportation along with CB3’s Transportation Committee held a special meeting in Seward Park’s Community Room last night to discuss much-needed safety measures being undertaken to make Delancey Street a lot safer. Officials from the DOT, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s and State Senator Daniel Squadron’s office were on hand for the presentation. DOT representatives included Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione and Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs Josh Benson, who delivered the presentation.
Local elected officials called on the DOT to create major safety improvements. Last fall Senator Squadron’s office formed the Delancey Street Safety Working Group that worked with the city department to help plan the improvements.
Some of the new measures in the plan include wider sidewalks and shorter crosswalks at major intersections along Delancey Street, changes to turning patterns and lengthening traffic signals. For example, at the north end of Delancey and Clinton Streets the crosswalk would be shortened by 49 feet, from 165 feet to approximately 116 feet. The service road on the south side of Delancey Street leading eastbound up to the bridge would be replaced by a plaza complete with flower pots. In all, the plan calls for 14 of the 19 crosswalks spanning Delancey Street to be filled in and shortened from anywhere between 5-49 feet.
In addition, Clinton Street would return to a one-way street, which it was originally. Cars could then to turn onto the bridge from Clinton Street, easing traffic congestion on Norfolk Street. It is hoped that this would reduce the amount of traffic heading eastbound on Delancey Street.
Local officials praised the DOT’s effort to make Delancey Street safer. Senator Squadron, who made an appearance toward the end of the meeting said “it is rare to get a government agency to move so aggressively. I want to thank the Community Board for your leadership.” Senator Squadron added “we really know what a crisis Delancey Street is. We are going to work with the community on this. I think there is something for everybody.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said “this plan will help address the long-term safety needs of our community, so that tragedies like the death of Dashane Santana will not have been in vain. These are important steps towards improving safety conditions for pedestrians on Delancey Street and throughout my community.”
Dashane Santana, the young girl Speaker Silver mentioned, was killed on January 13 while crossing Delancey at Clinton. She would have turned 13 years-old this week.
The Community Board must now review the plan and reach a consensus on the components that will be implemented. The DOT expects work to take place in June 2012.