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DOT's Plan to Improve Dangerous Uptown Intersection Gets Green Light

 The DOT says that 155th Street near Edgecombe Avenue is one of the city's most dangerous intersections.
Dangerous Uptown Intersection
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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The city’s plan to improve a confusing and dangerous Uptown intersection by restricting turns, adding curb extensions and installing a pedestrian island got the green light from a local community board Monday.

Community Board 12’s Transportation Committee recommended approval of the Department of Transportation's plan to add traffic-calming measure at 155th Street near Edgecombe Avenue and St. Nicholas Place.

The busy, six-pronged intersection of 155th Street, Edgecombe Avenue, Harlem River Driveway and St. Nicholas Place leads to Macombs Dam Bridge and Yankee Stadium, as well as the Harlem River Drive. Currently, drivers can make eight possible turns at the intersection, creating dangerous conditions for both pedestrians and motorists.

According to the DOT, 12 pedestrians were injured at the intersection between 2008 and 2012, with three of the injuries listed as severe. There were 59 motor vehicle accidents, five of which were severe, during the same time period.

Thirty-eight percent of the pedestrian crashes occurred while the victims were crossing with the walk signal, the department said. Twenty-three percent of the motor vehicle accidents involved left-turning vehicles.

Janet Stites, an Uptown resident who attended the meeting to support the plan, said many pedestrians are afraid to use the intersection.

“There would be even more fatalities and accidents there except that we [pedestrians] walk around it to avoid it,” Stites said. 

Under the most recent version of the proposal, the DOT would ban three turns at the intersection: the left turn from 155th Street onto St. Nicholas Place; the left turn from St. Nicholas Place onto 155th Street and the right turn from Edgecombe Avenue onto 155th Street. A dedicated left-turn lane would be created on 155th Street for westbound cars that need to turn onto Edgecombe Avenue or the Harlem River Driveway.

In addition, the DOT would add curb extensions on the north and south corners of Edgecombe Avenue and install a pedestrian island on St. Nicholas Place at 155th Street. The changes would drastically reduce pedestrian crossing distances, one of which is currently 95 feet. The DOT would also add curb extensions to the intersection at St. Nicholas Avenue and 155th Street one block away.

Local officials and half-dozen residents came to speak out about the plan Monday.

“We are very supportive of this plan in that is supports the mayor’s Vision Zero,” said Captain McDermott, executive officer of the 33rd Precinct, at the meeting. “I’m especially supportive of the pedestrian islands and crosswalks, which I think we’re in dire need of there.”

Assemblyman Denny Farrell Jr. expressed concern that St. Nicholas Place would be the first opportunity for drivers to make a left turn. Farrell worried about an increase of traffic on St. Nicholas Avenue near 155th Street, an area that houses an elementary school and a soon-to-open children’s museum.

“I’m 90 percent in favor of this, but the other 10 percent is really bad to my mind,” Farrell said.

The DOT had previously told DNAinfo New York that St. Nicholas Avenue is currently under capacity and can handle more traffic from drivers seeking alternate routes.

CB12’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously in favor of the plan.

It will go before the full board on Oct. 28.

Because of the location of the intersection, the DOT is also seeking approval from Community Boards 9 and 10.