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Traffic Light Approved for TriBeCa Intersection Where Boy Was Struck by Cab

By Julie Shapiro | October 19, 2011 12:49pm

TRIBECA — A traffic light is finally on the way to the intersection of Greenwich and Duane streets, where more than 10 pedestrians have been struck since 2000, including a 3-year-old boy who was recently hit by a cab.

In the past, the Department of Transportation repeatedly said the intersection was not busy enough to merit a traffic light, despite TriBeCa residents' warnings that it was dangerous and it was only a matter of time before someone was killed there.

But on Wednesday morning, the DOT announced that the intersection finally met the federal guidelines for installing a traffic light, which include the number of pedestrians that use the intersection and the traffic flow.

A recent DOT study found that the number of pedestrians crossing Greenwich Street on weekends has tripled since 2007, thanks to the influx of residents and tourists in the neighborhood, the agency said.

“New York streets are safer than they’ve ever been, and we need to make sure that they continue to meet the changing needs of neighborhoods like Lower Manhattan,” DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement.

The DOT's decision came less than three weeks after a cab hit 3-year-old Ozzie Carty as he was crossing Greenwich Street with his mother on the way to Washington Market Park.

Ozzie was not seriously injured, but the accident prompted residents and elected officials, including Borough President Scott Stringer, to renew their calls for safety measures at the busy intersection.

Stringer was scheduled to host a major meeting of local officials and advocates on Thursday to talk about convincing the DOT to install a traffic light, but now everyone is celebrating instead.

"It's thrilling to see pedestrians win for a change," said Nelle Fortenberry, former president of the Friends of Washington Market Park, who spent years fighting for the traffic light.

"We just saved lives down the road. There are children and the elderly who will now be able to cross safely."

City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Community Board 1 Chairwoman Julie Menin also praised the decision and said it would make TriBeCa safer.

The T-intersection of Greenwich and Duane streets sits across from the entrance to Washington Market Park and the Independence Plaza North senior center and is just blocks away from two elementary schools.

The DOT is expected to install the traffic light in about four months and will also paint a new crosswalk on the north side of the Greenwich and Duane intersection, the agency said.

The DOT added that between 2006 and 2010, Downtown's Community District 1 was already the safest in Manhattan in terms of the average number of crashes resulting in death or serious injury.