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Accident-Prone UES Intersections Will Get Improvements Starting This Fall

By Shaye Weaver | October 12, 2015 4:47pm
 The DOT is planning to make changes to several intersections along Second and Third avenues to make them more pedestrian friendly, according to the DOT.
The DOT is planning to make changes to several intersections along Second and Third avenues to make them more pedestrian friendly, according to the DOT.
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New York City Department of Transportation

UPPER EAST SIDE — Dangerous intersections along Second and Third avenues will get a series of changes starting this fall, in a bid to reduce accidents and calm traffic, according to the city's Department of Transportation.

The DOT is planning to roll out new marked lanes, medians, sidewalk extensions and pavement resurfacing in the East 60s and 70s over the course of this fall and next year, according to the agency.

Starting this month, crews will repave and create more clearly-marked lanes and crosswalks along Third Avenue, between East 64th and East 72nd. Sidewalk extensions will also be installed on the northwest and northeast corners of Third Avenue and East 66th Street.

In addition, the DOT plans to conduct a pedestrian signal study for Third Avenue at East 63rd, 65th and 66th streets.

These improvements are expected to calm traffic, to make crosswalks safer and shorter, and make more room for pedestrians, the agency said.

From 2009 to 2013, there have been numerous injuries reported from traffic-related accidents at these intersections, according to the DOT. On Third Avenue at both East 63rd and East 66th streets, there were seven pedestrian injuries from northbound left-turning vehicles, the agency said.

There were 36 total injuries reported for accidents at Third Avenue and 72nd Street, two of which were severe. Also along the avenue, 30 injuries occurred at East 63rd Street, and 21 injuries at East 66th Street, the DOT said.

Similar improvements already installed elsewhere in the neighborhood have shown to have worked to reduce accidents, the agency said.

The DOT installed improvements at both East 79th and East 86th streets at Third Avenue in 2013 and saw a 44 percent decrease in overall injuries, including a 33 percent drop in pedestrian injuries, officials said.

At East 86th Street, total injuries fell by 63 percent and pedestrian injuries decreased by 45 percent, the DOT said.

Currently, Third Avenue is very wide — spanning about 70 feet and including five lanes of traffic — so it takes longer for pedestrians to cross the street in the time allotted, DOT officials said.

The street isn't equally divided either. The parking lane on the western side of the street is 8 feet wide while the parking lane on the east side is 12 feet wide, officials said. Each lane between them is 10 feet wide.

Once it's repaved later this year, Third Avenue would still have five travel lanes, but all lanes, including lanes for parking, would be a uniform 10 feet wide, officials said.

New turning lanes along Third Avenue at East 63rd, East 66th and East 72nd street intersections will also be painted to better distinguish turning lanes, according to the DOT.

In addition, the long diagonal crosswalks at East 66th Street at Second and Third avenues will be replaced with straight ones, reducing the crossing from 78 feet to 62. The sidewalks would also be extended to make the passage shorter, according to the DOT.

Next year, the DOT will start to build median extensions on East 66th Street at Third and Second avenues and a sidewalk extension on the northwest corner of East 63rd Street, depending on when the Second Avenue Subway construction is completed, according to the DOT.

Last week, Community Board 8's transportation committee voted to approve the plans, which will be presented to the full board on Oct. 21. 

"It makes perfect sense," said Upper East Side resident Jon Schechter. "It always confounded me that the crosswalk [at Third Avenue and East 66th Street] was on an angle to begin with. It almost defies logic. I've seen hundreds of people walking straight across, putting themselves in harm's way."

More information about the plans can be found on the DOT's website.