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Dangerous Lincoln Square Streets to Get Series of Fixes Under DOT Plan

By Emily Frost | December 10, 2014 2:42pm
 The DOT wants to make the intersection safer for pedestrians and cyclists, it said. 
Sweeping Infrastructure Changes Proposed for Lincoln Square
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LINCOLN SQUARE — The Department of Transportation is proposing a series of changes to make the dangerous crisscross of streets around Lincoln Square safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

The intersection at the center of the area's so-called "bow tie," at West 65th Street and Broadway, ranked in the top 5 percent of Manhattan intersections with the most injuries and fatalities from 2008 to 2012, the DOT said.

During that time period, crashes along Broadway and Columbus Avenue from West 66th to 63rd streets resulted in a whopping 122 injuries and one death, the department said.

The planned redesign — spanning from West 69th to 62nd streets between Columbus Avenue and Broadway — includes creating new crosswalks, shortening the distances pedestrians have to cross, and limiting turns for vehicles, among other changes.

Community Board 7 members joined members of the public to see the proposed changes for the first time Tuesday night and were largely enthusiastic about the plan, lauding the DOT for its work. 

Other members hoped the DOT would go further in protecting cyclists, by extending and connecting the protected bike lane along Columbus Avenue, which currently stops at West 69th Street, to the southern portion that begins at West 62nd Street. 

"I'm less impressed by the infrastructure for cyclists. We’ve gone from what was a death trap for cyclists to something that’s merely mildly dangerous," said board member Ken Coughlin.

The DOT wants CB7 to sign off on the redesign at its meeting next month, and the agency can begin making the proposed changes this spring with the board's approval.

Changes north of West 65th Street

The DOT wants to widen the western sidewalk of Tucker Square, a public plaza on Broadway between West 66th and 65th streets, by 10 feet to give pedestrians more room as they exit the subway station. 

"They come out every four minutes when a train comes out; we don’t want them unprotected," said Rich Carmona, a DOT traffic engineer, who noted that pedestrians currently flow into the street because they don't have enough room on the sidewalk. 

The enlargement would require moving parking for the weekly farmer's market to the north and east boundaries of the square. It would also require the M7 and M11 bus stops there to shift a block north and the M20 bus stop to shift a block east.

For now, to limit the cost of the project, the sidewalk extension would be marked with paint and plastic bollards, Carmona said.

By changing the timing of the lights at the crosswalks on West 66th Street at Columbus Avenue and Broadway, pedestrians would be given more time to cross without any interference from turning cars, he explained. 

The protected Columbus Avenue bike lane would be extended by two blocks, from West 69th to West 67th streets. Cyclists would have to share the road with cars between West 67th and 66th streets before reaching West 65th Street, where an unprotected bike path would be designated with striping. It would run down to West 62nd Street along Columbus Avenue, where the current protected bike lane resumes.

Changes at West 65th Street

Two new crosswalks would extend across Columbus Avenue where it intersects with Broadway between West 65th and 64th streets so that pedestrians have more places to cross, instead of having to take a circuitous route or jaywalk, Carmona said. 

Under the plan, the southeast corner of the sidewalk on West 65th Street would be enlarged to give pedestrians a shorter distance to cross.

To reduce conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians, the DOT is also proposing to limit turns for vehicles near the intersection. Vehicles headed southbound on Columbus Avenue would no longer be allowed to turn left onto Broadway; vehicles headed southbound on Broadway would not be able to turn left onto West 64th Street; and vehicles headed north on Broadway would not be able to turn right onto West 65th Street.

The DOT would add two additional crosswalks — across Broadway at West 64th Street and across Columbus Avenue at West 64th Street — to make it easier to get to Lincoln Center. 

Changes south of West 65th Street

The DOT wants to lengthen the tip of the medians along Broadway, known as the Broadway malls, to allow more pedestrians to fit onto the median when large numbers cross the street. 

On Columbus Avenue between West 64th and 63rd streets, in front of Lincoln Center, the DOT wants to regulate parking to reduce congestion. 

"After events, the whole block feels kind of turbulent and not super organized," Carmona said.

Additionally, the DOT proposes removing parking spaces or converting them to one-hour parking spots on the east side of that block so that cars and cabs doing drop-offs and pickups would have more room and be less likely to double-park, he said.