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Inwoodites Want Changes at Deadly Broadway Intersection

3:49 PM EDT on September 20, 2007

Broadway at Dongan Place in Northern Manhattan. The bus shelter in the far background replaces another that was recently demolished when a vehicle left the road.

Residents near the border of Inwood and Washington Heights have seen enough crashes on Broadway at Dongan Place, and are pressuring officials to do something about it.

Last week, at a meeting of Community Board 12's Traffic and Transportation Committee, 15 people testified to the dangerous conditions along this uptown stretch of Broadway along Fort Tryon Park, where a curve in the street leads motorists -- many of them speeding, intoxicated, or both -- to lose control of their cars and smash into parked vehicles, or other motorists. Not that citizens need to prove their case. According to the Manhattan Times, a weekly paper covering the two Northern Manhattan neighborhoods, Broadway at Dongan has been the site of 13 crashes this year. Informal neighborhood accounts have raised the total to 15 since the paper published that figure less than one week ago.

In July, off-duty NYPD officer Felix Alexander was struck by a drunk driver who crossed Broadway's center line near the Dongan intersection. Alexander, who was driving a motorcycle, died at the scene. In August, a vehicle left the roadway in the curve, demolishing a newly installed bus stop shelter.

At last week's CB 12 committee meeting, DOT Deputy Borough Commissioner Maurice Bruet promised his agency would explore safety measures, but said options were limited. Speed bumps are out, because Broadway is a snow, truck and bus route; speed cameras are controversial and require approval from state legislators; and signage and lights can be a liability, Bruet said.

Bruet indicated the problem may be one of enforcement, rather than infrastructure. Committee Chair Mark Levine agrees. The 34th Precinct was invited to the committee meeting, but no one came.

"As Chair of Traffic and Transportation my first instinct is to look for ways we can change signage and signaling at the Broadway/Dongan curve to better alert drivers and slow down traffic. But even the best signs, speed limits, and traffic lights in the world are useless when driver chooses to ignore them or, even worse, drive intoxicated," Levine told Streetsblog in an e-mail message. "So we invited the 34th precinct to send a representative to our meeting last week to speak on how additional police can be deployed in the area to improve enforcement. Since they unfortunately didn't show I've encouraged residents to go directly the 34th Precinct."

That's what they plan to do on September 26, when the precinct will hold a regular community meeting.

The Manhattan Times reports that 34th Precinct Lieutenant Christopher Lopresti says police and DOT will collaborate to "determine if problems should be solved through enforcement or infrastructure changes."

Photo: Brad Aaron

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