MURRAY HILL — A new bus stop is coming to Third Avenue — and rather than being located along the curb, it will be on a concrete island in the middle of the busy seven-lane street.
The new stop at Third Avenue and 57th Street will be just the second in the city to be placed in the middle of a street, but Department of Transportation officials said it will be safer and more convenient for pedestrians.
“Currently, there are no bus stops from 55th to 61st streets,” said Kyle Gebhart, a project manager at the DOT.
“Fifty-seventh Street is a major destination and a stop is really needed, so we’re planning to put a boarding island at 57th Street.”
The stop, which will serve the M101, M102 and M103 buses, is part of a larger overhaul of the traffic pattern on Third Avenue, following a string of crashes, Gebhart said.
Between 2008 and 2012, there were 39 non-fatal pedestrian injuries on Third Avenue between 55th and 57th streets, Gebhart said.
The new traffic pattern will move the bus lane away from Third Avenue's eastern curb and create a lane for stopping and loading there instead, between 36th and 55th streets.
Pushing the bus lane toward the center of Third Avenue will prevent buses from having to cut across multiple lanes of traffic to avoid a turn-only lane at 57th Street and Third Avenue, Gebhart said.
Creating the bus lane will also help local businesses, Gebhart said.
“We don’t provide any loading space even though there is a lot demand for it on the east side of Third Avenue,” Gebhart said.
“As it is now, if trucks want to load on that side, they end up just doing it in the bus lane.”
The new bus stop on the traffic island will include a bus shelter and space for pedestrians to stand, Gebhart said.
The only other mid-street bus stop in the city is on Gun Hill Road in The Bronx.
"So far it's worked well in the Bronx, so there's no reason it wouldn't work here," Gebhart said.
The changes to the bus lane, which serves 59,000 daily riders, will happen in September and will leave four lanes of traffic open on Third Avenue, in addition to the bus lane, a loading lane and a combined parking and traffic lane, the DOT said.
The DOT has not yet set a timeline for the new bus stop at 57th Street.