INWOOD — Local leaders are asking the Department of Transportation to consider making major changes to two Uptown streets that parents and school leaders say are impossible to navigate during school pickup and drop-off times.
After hearing a presentation from parents at the affected schools earlier in the month, Community Board 12 passed a resolution Tuesday asking the DOT to consider converting West 219th and 220th streets to one-ways between Broadway and Ninth Avenue, with 219th Street for westbound cars and 220th Street for eastbound drivers.
While this area of Inwood is primarily industrial, two K-8 schools share a building on Ninth Avenue between West 219th and 220th streets. Between them, P.S./I.S. 18 and P.S./M.S. 278 serve more than 900 students.
Because the schools are removed from residential areas, many of the students commute by bus or car, read a joint letter from the schools’ principals that was presented to the board.
The current design of the streets, which are currently two-way, is leading to daily traffic jams, they said.
The schools said they have tried to address the issue themselves by staggering drop-off and pickup times, as well as working with their crossing guards, the letter reads. But parents and bus drivers nonetheless need to double-park in order to pick up or drop off students, leading to serious backups.
“Traffic going around the standing cars then blocks oncoming traffic in the other direction, which may also be trying to navigate around standing vehicles,” the letter says. “Adding school buses to the mix brings traffic to a complete standstill on these blocks during these periods.”
The letter notes that the traffic jams also raise safety concerns for pedestrians, including for students who walk to school.
“When drivers see the stopped school bus or any kind of temporary traffic jam ahead, they often perform three-point turns on the street to reverse direction,” it said. “This is hazardous to those walking on the sidewalks when the cars nose forward.”
The letter points out that the two streets also remain busy after school, thanks to a large car wash on 220th Street and visitors to the Allen Pavilion hospital, which uses the streets for parking.
They asked the board to consider converting both streets to one-way.
“Commercial businesses on these blocks would still retain their means of access but the overall environment would be much calmer, safer and better-functioning,” the letter says.
The board’s resolution also asks the DOT to consider adding two speed bumps each to 219th and 220th streets, and placing a light at West 219th Street and Broadway to facilitate pedestrian crossings and safer left turns onto Broadway, two other requests included in the parents’ proposal.
A spokeswoman for the DOT said the department was taking the plan under consideration.
“DOT is aware that the community board is interested in changes at 219th and 220th streets, and is looking forward to reviewing the resolution and evaluating the proposed improvements,” she said.