By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — A $65 million makeover brought a sleek new entrance to the 96th Street subway station, but officials and locals say the renovation has made nearby traffic uglier, and more dangerous, than ever.
Pedestrians cross Broadway to reach the bustling subway stop, which serves the 1 local line as well as the 2 and 3 express lines, and like most New Yorkers they stride into the crosswalk when there seems to be a break in traffic.
But those bold walkers can't see the turn signals guiding cars, and they don't realize they're sometimes stepping into the path of cars turning left onto southbound Broadway from westbound West 96th Street.
"The way it currently is, it's not flowing very well at all," said Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, who represents the 69th District.
O'Donnell says he is so worried about unsafe conditions at the busy crossroads that he wrote a letter earlier this month to the DOT, voicing concern about "construction, timing of turn signals and general pedestrian confusion" at the intersection. O'Donnell wants DOT to run a safety inspection at the intersection.
The DOT could not be reached for comment Monday.
The subway renovation, which took three years, narrowed Broadway, added turn lanes and ate up sidewalk space. In the wake of the renovation, pedestrians and drivers alike are playing fast and loose with the traffic signals.
O'Donnell says problems at the intersection are compounded by cars racing to reach the West Side Highway via West 96th Street now that the West 95th Street highway on-ramp is closed. Parents at nearby P.S. 75, at West 96th Street and West End Avenue, say they worry, too, about the onslaught of cars.
Police at the NYPD's 24th Precinct have also asked DOT to make safety improvements at the intersection and have even gone as far as submitting a list of suggestions, including using signs to warn people leaving the subway station from a median in the middle of Broadway to watch for turning vehicles, and prohibiting left turns onto Broadway from 96th Street.
A traffic sergeant described the crossroads as a "thorn in his side" at a recent 24th Precinct Community Council meeting.
One precinct member said he didn't believe there had been any serious accidents at the intersection, however, the precinct was unable to provide any data on the matter.
Marilyn Bravemen, a local resident who lives across the street from the busy transit hub, says she loves the new elevators at the 96th Street subway.
But she worries about pedestrians hustling across Broadway, and she's asked Community Board 7 to take action.
"There's all kinds of potential for an accident," Braveman said. "It really needs a comprehensive solution by DOT."