DOT Plans Safety Upgrades at Foot of Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown

Image: DOT [PDF]
Turn restrictions, new traffic signals, new crosswalks, and expanded pedestrian space are on tap for the tangle of streets where the Manhattan Bridge touches down in Chinatown. Image: DOT [PDF]

Choked with car and truck traffic, the Manhattan Bridge ramps around Canal Street are a danger zone. DOT has a plan to tame some of the chaotic crossings for people on foot, which the Manhattan Community Board 3 transportation committee voted in favor of last night.

Seven pedestrians and nine motor vehicle occupants were seriously injured at the intersection of Canal Street and the Bowery from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT, and one pedestrian was killed in 2009. The intersection has more serious crashes than 90 percent of Manhattan’s intersections, and residents have been calling for changes for years.

Lim Ah Yiew, 42, was killed by a driver coming off the bridge as he crossed Canal Street in 2005. “My heart pounds every time I cross that intersection,” Lim’s sister, Lim Sing Tse, told DNAinfo in 2009. “It’s really very horrible. The cars come speeding off the bridge and there’s no time for pedestrians to react.”

Under DOT’s plan, the bridge’s lower roadway, which currently reverses direction to allow Brooklyn-bound traffic from 3 to 9 p.m., will become Manhattan-bound 24 hours a day. This frees up space to add a large painted curb extension that reduces crossing distances from 84 feet to 32 feet and ensures pedestrians on the east side of the intersection will cross no more than two traffic lanes at a time.

Triangle-shaped pedestrian islands to the north and south of Canal Street on the eastern side of the Bowery will also be enlarged, and the median on the Bowery south of the intersection, installed in 2010, will be extended to provide a refuge for crossing pedestrians.

A range of other crosswalk markings and sidewalk extensions will tighten up intersections and give pedestrians shorter distances to cross the streets near the foot of the bridge.

Image: DOT [PDF]
By putting all Brooklyn-bound cars on the upper roadway, the plan opens up more space for pedestrians at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge on the Bowery. Image: DOT [PDF]

“It was very well received, and I think it’s certainly going to be a big improvement,” CB 3 transportation committee chair Karen Blatt told Streetsblog. “I’m looking forward to it.”

A resolution supporting the plan passed the committee, 6-0, and will be voted on at the next CB 3 full board meeting, scheduled for May 26 at 6:30 p.m. After the board signs off, DOT says it expects to begin making changes this summer, with final work completed by the fall.

DOT is also proposing changes to the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge, which will be presented to the Brooklyn Community Board 2 transportation committee on Tuesday, May 19 at 6:00 p.m., 180 Remsen Street.

Thursday, May 14, 12:45 p.m.: This post has been corrected. Previously, it erroneously stated that a left turn restriction would be added from the lower roadway to the Bowery. That turn restriction already exists.

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