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Community Board 12 Asks DOT to Look Into Creating Hudson Heights Slow Zone

By Nigel Chiwaya | May 30, 2013 7:48am | Updated on May 30, 2013 12:11pm
 Hudson Heights is seeking to become the second neighborhood in Norhtern Manhattan to get a slow zone.
Hudson Heights is seeking to become the second neighborhood in Norhtern Manhattan to get a slow zone.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

HUDSON HEIGHTS — Local leaders who want to put the brakes on speeding drivers in Hudson Heights have asked the Department of Transportation to look into creating a neighborhood slow zone in the area.

Community Board 12 voted nearly unanimously in favor of a slow zone, which would be northern Manhattan's second, at a meeting Tuesday evening.

The affected area, from West 181st Street to Fort Tryon Park west of Broadway, would lower the speed limit in the area to 20 miles per hour, down from 30 miles per hour. In addition, new speed bumps and street signage would be added to the area.

Fort Washington Avenue, which is a major thoroughfare, would be excluded to provide access for buses and emergency vehicles.

Community leaders have long maintained that speeding is a problem in the Hudson Heights area, which is home to P.S. 187 Hudson Cliffs elementary school. In March, the DOT determined that 97 percent of drivers within a quarter-mile radius of P.S. 187 were speeding.

Two speed bumps were installed in front of the school in the spring. In February, a woman was injured when she was hit by a speeding taxi at West 181st Street and dragged under the vehicle. Two pedestrians have been killed in the area between 1995 and 2009, according to Crashstat.org

"[Speeding] comes from several difference places," said resident Kelly Ruby, who is submitting the slow zone application along with the Hudson Heights Owner's Coalition. "A big one is Cabrini [Boulevard]. Another is Bennett Avenue. A lot of people are bypassing the traffic on Broadway by cutting through there." 

City Councilman Robert Jackson, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, the 34th Precinct, the Fort Tryon Jewish Center and the Fort Washington Collegiate Church have all supported the slow zone.

"I feel like everyone I've spoken to has sort of felt like it's a no-brainer," Ruby said. "I mean, it's such a quiet area that driving schools bring their student drivers here."

The slow zone program was created by the DOT last year, and Inwood became one of the first neighborhoods to implement the program when it created a slow zone in the northwest section north of Riverside Drive and west of Broadway.

Inwood resident David Thom, who spearheaded the Inwood zone, helped Ruby pull together the application for the Washington Heights zone. As part of the application, Thom surveyed 100 area residents and found that most residents believed the Inwood zone was effective in controlling street traffic and enhancing a sense of safety.

The DOT will review the application once it is submitted, said DOT Project Manager Rob Viola. If accepted, a public meeting would be held at a later date to determine the location of speed bumps and other implementation details.

"We put together a basic proposal to describes boundaries, humps, gateways, and we present that to the community board," Viola said. 

If it gets the green light, the slow zone could be installed some time between April and October 2014.

Ruby is still collecting testimonial letters for the slow zone.

Residents interested in supporting the campaign can email bennettpca@gmail.com. They are asked to include their street address and whether or not they drive a car.