WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia Medical Center want dozens of parking spaces near their West 168th Street location removed to ease traffic in the area and boost response times for emergency vehicles.
The hospital and medical school are proposing a plan, backed by the Department of Transportation, that would eliminate a total of 42 parking spaces on West 168th Street between Broadway and Fort Washington Avenue, and Fort Washington Avenue between West 165th and West 168th streets.
Officials say the spaces are desperately needed to tamp down on potentially life-threatening gridlock that hampers access to the facility.
"We have a sense of urgency about this," New York Presbyterian representative Sharon Greenberger said. "We see every day that there are congestion issues."
Currently 41 cars can park on West 168th Street in the targeted area, and 18 cars are allowed to park on the east side of Fort Washington Avenue. The new proposal would leave space for only 17 cars on West 168th Street, and all of the Fort Washington Avenue spaces would be removed.
Hospital officials said most of the spots are used by patients, rather than those who live in the area.
“We’ve discovered that the majority of people that are using those spots are using them for hospital reasons, not community reasons,” Greenberger said.
The DOT supports the proposal, which was presented to Community Board 12's traffic and transportation committee Monday night, and the DOT's Manhattan borough commissioner, Margaret Forgione, said that if needed the DOT could look into restoring parking along a stretch of West 167th Street between Audubon and St. Nicholas avenues, as a compromise.
"We very much support these changes," Forgione told CB12. "We think the loss of parking shouldn't be the focus. It should be the safety issue."
The proposal will go before the full community board at the end of the month.