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City Adds 8 Seconds to Deadly Delancey Street Crossing

By Julie Shapiro | March 15, 2012 10:41am
New Delancey Street Crossing Time
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Billy Figueroa

LOWER EAST SIDE — Pedestrians will soon have an additional 8 seconds to cross Delancey Street at Clinton Street, the dangerous intersection where 12-year-old Dashane Santana was struck and killed by a minivan in January, city officials announced Wednesday.

Pedestrians now have just 22 seconds to race across Delancey Street's 10 speeding lanes of traffic at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. A DNAinfo analysis found that Delancey and Clinton had one of the shortest crossing times of any major intersection in the city.

Department of Transportation officials initially questioned whether it would be possible to lengthen the crossing time, fearing it would back up traffic on the Williamsburg Bridge and create an even more hazardous situation for pedestrians.

Dashane Santana, 12, was struck by a car and killed on Delancey Street Fri., Jan. 13, 2012.
Dashane Santana, 12, was struck by a car and killed on Delancey Street Fri., Jan. 13, 2012.
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But on Wednesday night, Josh Benson, director of bicycle and pedestrian programs for the DOT, said the city had decided to increase the crossing time at Clinton Street to 30 seconds.

"There will definitely be changes to signal timing at Clinton Street," he said.

In addition to giving people more time to get across Delancey at Clinton, the city is also creating a pedestrian plaza there that will shorten the crosswalk by 49 feet. It is currently 165 feet long, including a 30-foot median.

After hearing Benson's presentation Wednesday night, Community Board 3's Transportation Committee unanimously approved the proposed changes, which also include safety improvements all along Delancey Street, not just at Clinton Street.

The Department of Transportation plans to put the changes into effect by the end of June, Benson said last month.

The safety overhaul will eliminate unnecessary lanes and service roads along Delancey Street, which will shorten crosswalks at 14 of the 19 intersections between Clinton Street and the Bowery. The DOT also plans to eliminate left turns at three intersections, including the left from southbound Essex Street onto Delancey Street.

Several CB3 members initially objected to eliminating that left turn, which is already restricted during evening rush hour, fearing it would be inconvenient for drivers and could cause backups. But on Wednesday night the board members unanimously agreed that it was more important to make the intersection safe.

"The person who dies there every other year is too big a sacrifice to preserve a left turn," said David Crane, chairman of CB3's Transportation Committee.

Between 2006 and 2010, 129 pedestrians, cyclists or motor vehicle occupants were injured at Delancey and Essex streets, the DOT said. The same number was injured at Delancey and Clinton streets.

Nine people have been killed along Delancey Street since 2006, including 12-year-old Deshane, a CASTLE Middle School student who was a talented singer and dancer and had just applied to The Juilliard School.

In the wake of Dashane's death, one of the residents' chief complaints about Delancey Street was that they could not get all the way across the street before the light changed.

A rendering of the intersection of Delancey and Clinton streets, once the DOT widens the sidewalk with a pedestrian plaza.
A rendering of the intersection of Delancey and Clinton streets, once the DOT widens the sidewalk with a pedestrian plaza.
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Department of Transportation

After the DOT implements its plan, all of the Delancey Street crossings will be designed so that an average adult can comfortably cross on a single light cycle, except for the crossings at Chrystie Street, Allen Street and Suffolk Street, Benson said Wednesday night.

At those crossings, the DOT will install signs on the median telling pedestrians to wait for the next light, Benson said.

Several residents asked why the DOT couldn't just lengthen the crossing times at those intersections, as the agency plans to do on Clinton Street.

Benson replied that lengthening those signals would result in fewer opportunities to cross per hour, which was a trade-off that the DOT did not believe was worthwhile.

"We can always come back and look at signal timing in the future," he said.