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Local Group Wants to Block Traffic Entrance to West End Ave.

By Emily Frost | October 15, 2014 5:33pm
 Their plan would extend Straus Park or create a pedestrian plaza to block the entrance of West End Avenue and thus stem illegal use by trucks and buses. 
Neighbors Propose Blocking Northern Entrance to West End Avenue
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A local nonprofit group wants the southbound entrance to West End Avenue between West 107 and 108th streets closed to traffic and converted to public space to prevent trucks from illegally using the avenue.

The West End Preservation Society, formed in 2007 to promote quality of life and historic preservation along the residential avenue, is tired of trucks and buses illegally using the avenue. It wants a stretch of the avenue at West 107th Street to be converted to parkland or a plaza to block trucks and buses from accessing West End Avenue at its northern end. 

Signs at this access point prohibiting commercial vehicles aren't working and neither is NYPD enforcement, said Josette Amato, executive director of WEPS, at a Community Board 7 meeting Tuesday. 

Over the years the problem has only worsened, she said. 

"It’s a very difficult task to tackle, trying to stop the commercial traffic," she said. 

Captain Marlon Larin of the 24th Precinct admitted that Vision Zero-related enforcement has been the department's primary focus and said he did not have data at the time on illegal truck and bus use along the avenue. 

Amato and others believe that trucks traveling southbound on Broadway simply stay straight when Broadway forks at the beginning of West End Avenue just south of West 108th Street, rather than moving onto Broadway as they are required.  

"There’s really no incentive for people to go onto Broadway rather than stay where they are [on West End Avenue]," she said.

Under the WEPS plan, the Parks Department would expand Straus Park, the small green space situated at the fork of Broadway and the beginning of West End Avenue, in order to block southbound traffic.

The Parks Department did not respond immediately to request for comment on this idea.

As an alternative, the Department of Transportation could create a pedestrian plaza that would also block any vehicle access to West End Avenue.

A DOT representative at the meeting declined to weigh in on the proposal at this time.

The plan would take away parking spots, but would leave open a narrow path for emergency vehicle access, Amato explained. 

"We know this is going to be controversial," she acknowledged.

Transportation Committee co-chairman Dan Zweig said it was important to get input and feedback from neighbors and block associations surrounding the West 107th Street intersection, something Amato agreed she would do. 

Zweig also wondered how the organization knew for sure that the trucks and buses drove onto West End Avenue at West 108th Street, the street's northern starting point, and not lower down on the avenue via side streets.

He asked Amato to organize some data collection to back up its hypothesis before the committee weighed in on the proposal. Amato agreed to have volunteers spread out every 10 blocks along the avenue, speaking by cellphone, to monitor where trucks and buses were accessing the Avenue.

For the most part, the board lauded the group's proactivity.

"I want to commend you for this. I think it’s an intriguing idea," said board member Ken Coughlin.