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.

  • Solo500

    The bollards need to go.

  • Mike

    Shame that they’re not putting in a 2-way protected bike lane on Chrystie as part of this work. It’s long overdue.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    The request was made by CB3 and DOT is studying it. Fingers crossed they’ll present something good in a few months?

  • BBnet3000

    The first step in fixing decades of city policy making Chinatown a traffic sewer. Transportation justice.

  • AnoNYC

    Move NY!

  • Seth Rosenblum

    It seems like they’re adding curb extensions at Canal & Chrystie that will make that alignment harder to achieve. Hopefully it’s in temporary materials…

  • celticfrostythesnowman

    Why’s that?

  • J

    The curb extension & median island on the north crosswalk at Canal & Christie already exist.

  • Mike

    Now if only they’d do something about the cannonball death slalom that is the approach from the north down Chrystie via bicycle.

  • Joe Enoch

    Now if only there was a safe way to get there via bicycle.

  • Joe Enoch

    Wow. Something about great minds thinking alike.

  • Mike

    Whoa. No kidding.

  • J

    By soon, you mean in two and a half years.

    November 2011: Manhattan CB2 requests Hudson St protected lane.

    April 2014: DOT proposes upgrades

    Based on that timeline, we can expect DOT to propose upgrades to Christie Street around August 2017.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    It would be great to restore easy pedestrian access to the plaza on the Manhattan side. From Forgotten New York:

    “The massive arch and colonnade that frame the Manhattan at Bowery and Canal Street are the design of Carrere and Hastings, who also built the New York Public Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. They looked to two classic European monuments for inspiration”

  • stairbob

    Will implementing this plan make it more difficult to install the requested two-way bike lane on the east side of Chrystie Street? It’s disheartening that bike accommodation isn’t improved in any way here. When exactly are they going to do something about Chrystie?

  • ohhleary

    There’s a huge error in the DOT’s presentation. They show there are currently markings for a bike lane on Chrystie.

  • Matthias

    Why not make the lower roadway two-way instead of Manhattan-bound only? Doesn’t this plan just make it easier for trucks to use the bridge as a free shortcut to New Jersey?


    I thought they approved the 2 way bike lane on Chrystie.

  • BBnet3000

    Not only does the street have no bike lane left (and it was crap when it was still there), but people cycling are forced to go way left in front of two lanes of cars at Houston right now.


Bike & Ped Improvements Slated for Manhattan Bridge Approach

DOT plans to build a physically-separated two-way bike lane on this one block stretch of Canal Street at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. The project also includes pedestrian safety fixes. The Manhattan approach to the Manhattan Bridge, where Chinatown and the Lower East Side come together in a jumble, has long presented one of […]

Squadron: Red Light Cams Needed at Dangerous Intersections

Dan Squadron at yesterday’s press event. Earlier this month Albany approved the expansion of New York City’s red light camera program. Media coverage tends not to play up the benefits of automated enforcement, so it was refreshing to see State Senator Dan Squadron, who represents Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, put the emphasis squarely […]

Unlicensed Dump Truck Driver Kills Senior Near Bowery and Canal

On Friday afternoon, a dump truck driver with a suspended license struck and killed 83-year-old Ka Chor Yau, who was crossing a deadly intersection at the base of the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown. The same intersection is due to receive pedestrian safety improvements this summer. The driver, 24-year-old Maykel Felix-Tejada of Paterson, New Jersey, was arrested for aggravated unlicensed operation, the […]