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Perilous West 4th-Christopher Street Intersection is Safer Now: Officials

By Danielle Tcholakian | November 16, 2015 5:15pm | Updated on November 17, 2015 11:39pm
 The Department of Transportation added a crosswalk at Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue South, where people jaywalked for years.
The Department of Transportation added a crosswalk at Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue South, where people jaywalked for years.
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DNAinfo/Danielle Tcholakian

WEST VILLAGE — City officials unveiled on Monday the newly redesigned intersection of Seventh Avenue South and Christopher, West 4th and Grove streets.

The redesign aims to improve pedestrian safety at the complicated nexus, which the city ranks in the top 1 percent of Manhattan intersections for how many people have been injured there.

Community Board 2 Chair Tobi Bergman said the redesign “knocks off our worst intersection,” but said many of the remaining dangerous ones are along Seventh Avenue South, which leads to the Holland Tunnel at Canal Street.

"We got the worst and we're going to keep moving down Seventh Avenue South with DOT's help and hopefully get the rest," Bergman said.

Twenty-one total traffic-related injuries occurred at the affected intersection between 2009 and 2013, with seven of them involving pedestrians, according to Department of Transportation data.

Three out of those seven left the pedestrians severely injured, DOT officials said.

The redesign added:

► A flashing amber arrow and "left turn only" lane into West Fourth Street;

► A crosswalk at Christopher Street, where pedestrians have jaywalked for years;

► Sidewalk extensions on both sides of Seventh Avenue South to shorten the crosswalks and give pedestrians more room to wait safely.

Locals have been pushing for a "complete streets" redesign all along Seventh Avenue South, which would involve extending the sidewalk to shorten the crosswalk, adding protected bike lanes, and potentially decreasing the traffic lanes.

That project "is something that we're interested in, but we have no plans for that yet," DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione said.

DOT urban planners originally wanted to close off the small stretch of West Fourth Street completely, making it a safer place for people exiting the Christopher Street subway station.

But that measure was vetoed by Community Board 2, when the board said "the traffic implications were untenable," explained Elisabeth Wooten, the DOT urban planner who led the project.

DOT required a "maintenance partner" to keep the new sidewalk extensions clean, because street-sweeping vehicles can't access them.

The Seventh Avenue South Alliance, which formed last year to keep the avenue "green, clean and safe," took on the responsibility, Alliance head Brooke Schooley said.

They are working with ACE, an organization that employs homeless individuals to clean streets.