Manhattan Community Board 10 Votes for Morningside Safety Plan

morningside
The redesign of Morningside Avenue will reduce chaotic driving patterns and add pedestrian islands and painted sidewalk extensions. Image: NYC DOT

Last night, Manhattan Community Board 10 approved the NYC DOT plan to add pedestrian islands and trim traffic lanes on 10 blocks of Morningside Avenue [PDF]. A concerted effort from neighborhood street safety advocates and local elected officials, including City Council Member Mark Levine and State Senator Adriano Espaillat, helped overcome recalcitrance at CB 10, which dragged its feet for nearly a year before yesterday’s vote.

Currently, Morningside has two moving lanes in each direction, and with all that open asphalt, speeding is a major hazard. In response to a request from the North Star Neighborhood Association, DOT proposed a road diet between 116th Street and 126th Street last September. The plan follows a template that has proven effective at reducing speeding and preventing injuries, converting the four traffic lanes to two through lanes plus turning pockets and pedestrian islands at intersections.

While Community Board 9 supported the plan, CB 10 repeatedly put off a vote and nearly killed the project. Then came a breakthrough at the last CB 10 transportation committee meeting, when board chair Henrietta Lyle acknowledged, “The community wants this. We may not want this, but we are going to support the community.”

Levine and Espaillat, whose support has been crucial, released a joint statement today hailing the impending implementation of the project:

“We are thrilled these lifesaving changes are now on track to move forward. With summer approaching and the school year almost finished, we need these safety measures in place as quickly as possible. There have been over 100 reported accidents in the past year alone and there will be more unless we act. DOT conducted an open, transparent process that gave our community ample opportunity to weigh in — and we’ve been able to achieve a broad community consensus that is the right approach.”

DOT told Streetsblog after the May transportation committee meeting that construction should begin next month.

  • R

    The painted sidewalk extensions are definitely great as far as decreasing the crossing distance for pedestrians and increasing visibility, but they more or less render the wide parking lane useless as a de facto bike lane, which is what such lanes become on other streets. It means that cyclists will have to merge with fast-moving traffic at the intersection or, at least while it’s just paint, roll over the sidewalk extension.

    I know this project had some trouble getting over the finish line, but I really wish DOT wasn’t so afraid of including bike facilities in their projects these days. This won’t get us to Vision Zero.

  • J

    Seriously. DOT now has a major policy sick with significant public backing. They need to start freaking using it to push for bicycle safety as well.

  • Harlem Resident

    I am still very confused why this took so long.

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