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CB 10 Scales Back Adam Clayton Powell Safety Improvements [Updated]

11:25 AM EDT on June 20, 2012

Turning the left lanes of Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard into left turn lanes would allow for the installation of crosswalk shortening extensions of the existing median at intersections. Image: NYC DOT

Responding to the local community board, NYC DOT has shrunk its proposal for safety improvements on Harlem’s deadly Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard. The revised plan only covers half the distance initially proposed. And even with that concession, the board has yet to approve the plan to expand the road's medians and slow speeding traffic.

In a presentation to Community Board 10 last week [PDF], DOT said the badly needed safety improvements will now only cover the area from 134th Street to 153rd Street, instead of extending south to 118th Street as originally planned. According to the presentation, the request to scale back the project came from the community board. Update: According to a department source, the full project could not be constructed in 2012 given the delay in community board approval, and the whole corridor could see improvements by next year if the CB assents.

All of Adam Clayton Powell is dangerous -- speeds on the avenue average 50 miles per hour after 8:00 p.m. -- but the northern section is particularly so. Since 2006, 12 pedestrians have been killed by drivers on Adam Clayton Powell, nine of them above 134th Street. Just weeks ago, Juanita Rosario, a 59 year old legal secretary, was killed as she crossed Adam Clayton Powell at 145th Street.

Community Board 10 is reserving judgment on the scaled-back plan until it hears from local elected officials, including Council Member Inez Dickens. Will she push them to make the plan safer or less so? Image: City Council

Community Board 10 District Manager Paimaan Lodhi said the board is waiting to discuss the revised plan with local elected officials, which it will do in coming weeks, before it takes a position. The board did convey to DOT the seriousness with which it takes the issue of safety, Lodhi said.

City Council Member Inez Dickens, who represents most of Adam Clayton Powell, did not return Streetsblog's inquiries about the plan, nor did Council Member Robert Jackson, who represents one side of the avenue between 141st Street and 149th Street.

Other, smaller changes were also made to the safety plan at the request of the community board. The board was interested in retiming the traffic signals to slow traffic in addition to using physical infrastructure. DOT agreed to make minor signal adjustments during off-peak hours to deter speeding. Instead of using planters to mark off safe pedestrian space in the median -- the board had worried about maintaining them -- DOT will use plastic posts.

Finally, DOT will add metered parking, which the board requested, to four blocks of the road which currently are designated for commercial loading or do not allow parking at rush hour.

The scaled-back safety plan came despite strong support for traffic calming on Adam Clayton Powell from some of the neighborhood's most prominent institutions, such as the Harlem Children's Zone and the Abyssinian Development Corporation. A 2009 proposal to calm traffic on the road using a buffered bike lane was voted down by Community Board 10 after winning approval from the board's transportation committee.

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