TRIBECA — A dangerous TriBeCa intersection added a stoplight Tuesday after years of community complaints that it was unsafe.
The new traffic light at Greenwich and Duane streets gives pedestrians 25 seconds to cross Greenwich Street. Previously, pedestrians had to wait for a gap in traffic and dash across.
"The TriBeCa community will be much safer with this traffic signal in place," said City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, one of the local leaders who pushed for the light.
The Department of Transportation said for years that the intersection — steps away from the entrance to Washington Market Park, and close to two elementary schools — was not busy enough to merit a traffic light. But the agency finally agreed to install one last fall, after a 3-year-old boy was hit by a cab while riding his scooter across Greenwich Street.
The boy, TriBeCa resident Ozzie Carty, was not seriously hurt, but the accident renewed residents' and politicians' calls for a stop sign or traffic light at the intersection.
The DOT studied the crossing again and found three weeks after the accident that it met federal guidelines for a traffic light.
Grateful residents said Tuesday that they felt safer with the new light in place.
"It's a lot easier to get to the playground," said C.J. Juhasz, 44, a TriBeCa resident who was crossing the street with her 2-year-old daughter, Miriam.
"You can't teach a little kid to watch for cars," Juhasz added. "You can teach them to watch for a light to change."
Chrisy Richmond, 47, a TriBeCa resident who was walking her dog Jell-O Tuesday afternoon, said she has nearly been hit by cars several times while crossing Greenwich Street at the intersection.
"There's a blind spot — the cars don't see you," she said. "I'm really happy we got a crosswalk here."
John Ofrias, 53, who has lived in TriBeCa for 30 years, said he also hopes the light slows down the cars that race down Greenwich Street hoping to make the light at Chambers Street.
"It'll definitely be safer," he said. "For so many years we've been waiting for this."
The Friends of Washington Market Park, Borough President Scott Stringer and Community Board 1 chairwoman Julie Menin were among those who advocated for the light.
The traffic light was turned on Tuesday morning, but the DOT's work at the intersection is not complete. The city still must add a crosswalk to the north side of the intersection, which will happen soon, DOT officials said.