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State Dept. of Transportation to Study Deadly Section of West Side Highway

By Jackson Chen | October 9, 2017 3:43pm
 The intersection where Koval was killed falls within the state DOT's traffic study of the West Side Highway.
The intersection where Koval was killed falls within the state DOT's traffic study of the West Side Highway.
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DNAinfo/Jackson Chen

UPPER WEST SIDE — Following a string of cyclist and pedestrian deaths on the West Side Highway last year, the state transportation officials agreed to study the traffic conditions on the five-mile span, according to officials.

The state Department of Transportation's response comes after State Senator Brad Hoylman and several other elected officials wrote a letter to the agency in February asking them to look into the issue before more people were killed or injured. The highway, which runs from West 72nd Street to the southernmost end of Manhattan, is a part of the New York State Route 9A.

Four people were killed in crashes on the West Side Highway in 2016, and dozens more were injured, according to data collected by the city. At least one person has been killed on the highway this year.

Hoylman cited the death of Jack Koval, who was struck and killed last July by an off-duty police officer, and how his family visited the intersection of 12th Avenue and West 46th Street to advocate for improved safety.

"Here's a family that has come to New York City for a vigil and their own advocacy of their issues with the West Side Highway," Hoylman said. "The least we can do is urge the state...to take action and figure out ways to make this road safer."

The state DOT's regional director, Sonia Pichardo, first rejected Hoylman's request in April, stating that a traffic study "takes many years to complete and will not address the timely concerns the corridor may have at a particular location," her response letter read.

But the state DOT has since changed their mind following a meeting in September with Hoylman's office to discuss a "limited, expedited study," and will work with the senator to develop the study's scope.

Hoylman suggested numerous improvements like narrower lanes, speed and red light cameras, improved pedestrians crossings, and other modern safety measures.

"DOT has agreed to move forward with some comprehensive review of safety," Hoylman said. "There's a lot to be worked out in terms of what the scope will be, how long it wil take, and other factors, but it's a green light and not the red one we initially got."

The state DOT said the study's timeline has not yet been established.