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

Converting the left lanes of Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard into turn lanes would allow for the installation of median extensions at intersections, shortening crossings for pedestrians. 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 to maintain the deadly status quo? 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.

  • J

    How many people have to die for CB10 to embrace safety in Harlem over the convenience of drivers?

  • Mark Walker

    If maintenance cost is the only objection to the planters, there are better alternatives than plastic. DOT could use curved concrete barriers like the ones on Bway on the UWS. Or metal bollards. Either one would offer better protection to pedestrians than plastic posts and would require little more than a paint job once every decade or two.

  • Anonymous

    I really don’t understand their objections.  The majority of the residents don’t drive.  ACP gets super fast and is also super heavy residential.  Traffic calming won’t add much time, if at all, to anyone’s commute.  And would likely improve the asthetics as well as safety. 

    I just don’t get it?!?  Why are these people so in love with the automobile?  I grew up in the plastic car dependent suburbs.  But this is densely populated harlem.  People walk and bike in heavy numbers.  I highly doubt that the livery cab lobby is the one pushing this?  

    Just sad.

  • I don’t think they’re in love with the automobile; they’re just running on autopilot.

  • Eric McClure

    Just out of curiosity, what’s the average age and tenure of CB10 members?  Perhaps it’s time for some new blood.  This is shameful.

  • Morris Zapp

    How bonkers is it that in New York City decisions that affect the public health are driven by random cranks who may as well have wandered in off the street.

    Community boards will do as community boards will do. The buck stops with city electeds.

  • Albert

    Does anyone remember how CB10 voted when the avid driving community sought approval for these “car lanes” way back when?  I’m not old enough to recall the specific meeting, but surely it happened.

  • Ben Kintisch

    While I still lived in Harlem, I attended several meetings of the Transportation Committee and the full Community Board. Parking and quasi-legal double parking for church goers once a week trumped the need for bike lanes. Yes, Eric, the average age of that Community Board is well above 50, no longer representative of what people in the community want. I’m guessing they are also overwhelmingly car owners, in stark opposition to actual Harlem residents, who overwhelmingly do not own cars.
    So, to review, more Harlem residents will die because drivers want to speed. It’s pretty rotten leadership CB10.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Also, I should mention that Harlem residents have much higher rates of obesity, asthma, and related illnesses than other parts of the city. If folks want to walk or bike, they need to navigate some of the most dangerous streets in the city. This is a terrible choice to have to make – stay inactive, (and risk your life) relying only on busses and cabs to get around, or try and be active, (and risk your ).

  • Ben Kintisch


  • Zulu

    I’m guessing that it would take one more person to die before CB10 makes community wise responsible decisions…


DOT Moving Forward With Safety Plan for ACP Boulevard [Corrected]

Safety improvements on deadly Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard could be in place by September, the New York Times reported yesterday, despite continued resistance to the redesign from the local community board. Three people have been killed while walking on Adam Clayton Powell this year; 12 were killed by drivers since 2006. The road’s wide, straight […]

Wednesday: CB 10 to Consider Harlem Bike Improvements

Image: DOT Plans for new bike and traffic-calming facilities in Harlem will go before Community Board 10 tomorrow night. As we reported last month, DOT intends to replace one lane of auto traffic with a buffered bike lane on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard between W. 118th and W. 153rd Streets [PDF], completing a direct […]