UPPER EAST SIDE — Safety improvements have come to an Upper East Side intersection where two pedestrians were killed and several others injured over the past few years.
The Department of Transportation installed two painted curb extensions and two dedicated turn lanes at East 60th Street and Third Avenue. The extensions shorten the crossing distance at each point by at least 20 percent, the DOT said.They also provide overflow space for pedestrians in an area where sidewalks are typically very crowded.
In July 2013, 16-year-old Renee Thompson was struck by a tractor-trailer as she crossed Third Avenue at the intersection. Three years earlier, a 67-year-old man died when he was hit by a taxi while crossing East 60th Street.
According to the DOT, 28 people were injured at the intersection between 2007 and 2011.
Community Board 8 pushed for the changes after identifying the intersection as one of the busiest and most dangerous in the neighborhood. The exit ramp of the Queensboro Bridge is one block away, and Third Avenue is filled with popular retail spots such as Bloomingdales, Dylan’s Candy Bar and Serendipity.
Many pedestrians appreciated the change.
Nancy Lercara, 89, who visits the area every few weeks to go to the doctor or shop at Bloomingdales, noticed the curb extensions right away.
“I think it’s a great idea,” she said. “We always creep up off of the sidewalk and into the gutter when we’re waiting. This gives a safety zone for people like me.”
Carlos Cruz, 44, a truck driver who regularly makes deliveries to the area, said it’s better from a driver’s perspective as well.
“Normally people will be stepping into the street here before the light is red," he said. "It’s really dangerous because I have blind spots and don’t always see them. It makes it better for that.”
The DOT also added an additional right turn lane from 60th Street onto Third Avenue and created a dedicated left turn lane from Third Avenue onto 60th Street. The hope is to provide more space for turning cars and eliminate illegal turns made from the middle lane.
Community Board 8 has requested that the DOT look at installing similar pedestrian safety measures at East 60th Street and Second Avenue, a project that transportation committee co-chairman A. Scott Falk said is onoing.
"The added space for pedestrians at the intersection of 60th St. and Third Avenue increases safety at a very busy transit and tourist hub where we lost a member of our community last summer," Falk said. "The Board looks forward to working with DOT for safety upgrades near the Queensboro Bridge exit at Second Avenue and 60th very soon."
The DOT did not immediately respond to requests for comment.