MANHATTAN — Pedestrians crossing Varick Street in Hudson Square no longer have to face Holland Tunnel-bound traffic alone thanks to a $90,000, six-month street-crossing program.
The Hudson Square Connection Business Improvement District announced Thursday that they have hired "pedestrian traffic managers" to help keep crosswalks clear during the pilot program.
Crosswalks on Varick Street in Hudson Square —the former manufacturing district roughly bordered by West Houston Street, Greenwich Street, Canal Street and Sixth Avenue — are blocked by traffic during rush hours nearly 100 percent of the time, according to research cited by a spokeswoman for the BID.
The Hudson Square Connection says yellow-vested traffic managers will help pedestrians cross Varick Street safely, prevent Holland Tunnel-bound cars from creating gridlock that blocks streets for local through-traffic and reduce the honking of car horns.
“With more than 50,000 people a day working in and visiting the Hudson Square neighborhood, we need to even the playing field so that pedestrians can safely get from one place to another in the district," Hudson Square Connection President Ellen Baer said in a statement.
The private traffic officers, which supplement city traffic enforcement agents, will patrol Varick Street between Houston and Spring streets Wednesdays through Fridays from 3 pm. to 7 p.m. through January 2012.
Workers from Sam Schwartz Engineering, the company hired to patrol the area, have law enforcement experience, according to the group's website. However, they have no authority to ticket traffic offenders.
Hiring private traffic officers is the Hudson Square BID's latest move to make the neighborhood more pedestrian-friendly. In the last 12 months, they have worked with the Department of Transportation to install crosswalks, pedestrian countdown signals and signs warning turning vehicles to yield to pedestrians.