By Carla Zanoni
INWOOD — Some of Inwood's most dangerous intersections are likely to get a makeover after community leaders backed Department of Transportation (DOT) redesign plans.
Community Board 12's Traffic and Transportation Committee voted Monday to recommend that its full board approves the department's plan to make cosmetic changes to eight of 13 intersections examined in its Inwood/Sherman Creek Traffic Study.
The eight intersections were selected because of congestion and a high number of accidents. The intersections that will be altered have each had between 24 and 116 crashes reported between March 2008 and March 2011, totaling 489 pedestrian, bicycle and auto crashes, according to the DOT.
The proposed changes include adding pavement markings, signage, painted and/or textured roadway surfaces, concrete islands and movable barriers to better define traffic patterns, and recalibrated signal timing.
"Nothing has been done to change intersections in Inwood for so long," said Maurice Bruet, the DOT's Manhattan borough commissioner, adding he hoped changes would begin as soon as June, pending approval.
The DOT plans to return to the board in September with further plans to change six additional intersections that will require reconstruction and rerouting, which cannot be done by the DOT alone.
The eight intersections that would likely be improved over the summer include Nagle Avenue and Dyckman Street; Tenth Avenue at West 201st and 202nd streets; Tenth Avenue and Nagle Avenue at West 204th and 206th streets; Tenth Avenue and West 207th Street; Ninth Avenue and West 207th Street; Broadway and West 207th Street; Broadway and Tenth Avenue and West 215th Street; and Broadway and Tenth Avenue and West 218th Street.
Residents were overwhelmingly receptive to the proposed changes presented Monday, but urged the department to more closely examine two especially complicated intersections - the spot where Nagle Avenue at Dyckman Street meets Fort George Hill and Hillside Avenue; and where West 218th Street meets Broadway and Tenth Avenue.
They expressed concern that further delays in changing the intersections would end in tragedy.
"It's sort of lawless, this culture of driving in the neighborhood," said one resident who was concerned that families who cross the intersection at West 218th Street take great risk because of faulty traffic patterns.
"It's a death trap," one neighborhood parent said.
DOT officials said they would meet with concerned residents to further identify simple changes to the intersections that could be easily applied this summer.
But not all residents supported some of the traffic pattern changes, voicing concern that drivers would be inconvenienced by the removal of left-hand turns at some crossroads.
Bruett of the DOT stressed that the changes being made are focused on safety, not convenience.
"We're not trying to make it easier for drivers," Bruett said, "This is a pedestrian safety project."
The DOT will be able to move forward with its proposed changes once the full community board votes on the committee's resolution during its general meeting on May 24.