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Pols Criticize City's Slow Fixes at 'Bowtie of Death'

UPPER WEST SIDE — The Department of Transportation is dragging its feet on completing promised safety improvements at one of the Upper West Side's most dangerous intersections, politicians said Monday.

Borough President Scott Stringer and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal accused the DOT of moving too slowly on a host of upgrades at the busy intersection, where West 71st Street, Amsterdam Avenue, and two lanes of Broadway converge in a jumble of cars and crosswalks.

Dubbed the "bow tie of death," the bustling crossroads has seen more than 34 accidents in the last two years and is classified as a "high crash location" by the NYPD, according to Stringer's office.

"Crossing this intersection has been like a 100-meter dash against death," Stringer said.

In August 2010, Rosenthal and Stringer called on the DOT to improve safety at the intersection, saying the agency was spending too much time studying the traffic-heavy site and not enough time making actual improvements.

Since then, there's been little action from DOT, Rosenthal and Stringer said at a Monday afternoon press conference held on a median in the intersection, as roaring trucks drowned out most of the politicians' words.

The DOT unveiled a safety improvement plan in October 2010 designed to make the intersection more pedestrian-friendly, but DOT has made only one of the promised changes.

The agency installed countdown clocks that tell pedestrians how many seconds they have to cross the street, but other promised upgrades, such as adding a turn lane and extending curbs and medians, haven't materialized, said Stringer and Rosenthal.

DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said Monday that the agency recently "resolved challenges" associated with building atop a major subway station — the 1, 2 and 3 trains all stop at West 72nd Street — and will begin work next month on the promised safety upgrades.

"We're redesigning this intersection from the view of a senior crossing the street," Solomonow said in an email. "This sweeping safety makeover will bring expanded curbs and islands, upgraded crosswalks and shorter crossing distances for pedestrians."

Rosenthal said those improvements can't come soon enough.

Her office regularly receives phone calls from people asking when the safety improvements will be finished, and she added that she toured the intersection in April 2010 with DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, who agreed then that safety improvements were needed.

"It would really make this intersection easier for West Siders," Rosenthal said. "For the elderly, for people with small children, it's very difficult to cross here. We really don't want to have another news conference about a death."

Bebe Robinson, who lives in an apartment overlooking the intersection, said a woman crossing the intersection with the light was hit by a turning car in March 2011. Robinson said the accident made her "sick to her stomach," because she believes the delayed safety improvements would have prevented the collision.

"It's terrible," Robinson said. "It's so avoidable."