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City to Shut Down Block of Waverly Place to Improve Traffic Safety

 The city will permanently close this stretch of Waverly Place near Seventh Avenue South as part of a pedestrian safety initiative.
The city will permanently close this stretch of Waverly Place near Seventh Avenue South as part of a pedestrian safety initiative.
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DNAinfo/Danielle Tcholakian

WEST VILLAGE — The city is shutting down car traffic on a block of Waverly Place, to make the West Village safer for pedestrians and drivers, officials announced at a recent community meeting.

The Department of Transportation plans to permanently close Waverly Place between Seventh Avenue South and Charles Street, where three people were injured in crashes between 2009 and 2013, including one pedestrian.

Local business owners and residents showed up at Community Board 2's Traffic and Transportation Committee meeting Thursday night to support the Waverly Street proposal.

"We have tons of families, strollers, kids coming to our restaurant,” said Roberto Tibaldo, a manager at the restaurant Morandi, which is on the block of Waverly that will be closed. “I saw so many more accidents than the ones reported.”

The DOT also plans to extend sidewalks into the street at Seventh Avenue South and Waverly Place, decreasing the distance pedestrians need to cross, and to paint clearer crosswalks on Seventh Avenue South.

Officials did not immediately give a timetable for when the changes would happen.

At Thursday's meeting, DOT officials also proposed shutting down traffic on West Fourth Street between Seventh Avenue and Grove Street, but residents objected.

The intersection of West Fourth Street and Seventh Avenue South ranks in the top 1 percent of Manhattan's most dangerous intersections, with 26 injuries from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT project manager Elisabeth Wooten. Fifteen of the people who were hurt were pedestrians, and four of the injuries were "severe," she said.

However, residents worried that permanently closing a block of West Fourth Street would hinder local businesses receiving truck deliveries, push traffic onto smaller side streets and turn the street into an area for drunken revelers to congregate at night.

City officials said an alternative plan would be to create a left turn lane from Seventh Avenue South onto West Fourth Street, to simplify the traffic pattern there.

The DOT plans to present options for improving safety at West Fourth Street to the community board again in February.

The pedestrian safety proposals presented last week were not connected to a "Complete Streets" study requested by the community last year for Seventh Avenue South from Canal Street to West 14th Street. The DOT still plans to conduct the study, which would examine using protected bike lanes, pedestrian islands and other measures to slow traffic, officials said.