Eyes on the Street: The New East Houston Street

The new "Green Street" plaza west of Avenue A. Photo: David Meyer
The new pedestrian space west of Avenue A is bigger than the old sidewalk (below), but places a fenced off planted area between pedestrians and ground floor retail like Punjabi Deli. Photo: David Meyer
Before construction, the area was part of 1st Street. Pictured here in July 2012. Photo: Google Maps
Before construction, the area was part of East 1st Street. Pictured here in July 2012. Photo: Google Maps

The long-delayed reconstruction of East Houston Street between the Bowery and the FDR Drive is starting to round into form. Though the Department of Design and Construction won’t wrap up the project until next year at the earliest, new medians and pedestrian areas between Avenue A and Chrystie Street are finally complete, and the transition to the First Avenue bike lane is no longer obstructed by construction.

Planning for the project began all the way back in the early 2000s, and it shows. While the East Houston reconstruction includes bigger pedestrian zones and buffered bike lanes — a net improvement — it also dates to an earlier era of city street design, before protected bike lanes and plazas were common elements in DOT’s toolkit.

When construction began in 2010, it was set to finish by 2013. Six years later, the end is only now in sight.

East of Chrystie Street, wider medians that will be planted with trees have been completed along the corridor. At Avenue A, a wider sidewalk and seating area was also recently finished by Punjabi Deli. For some reason, the city placed a fenced-off planted area between the ground floor stores and the seating area, an awkward barrier.

One block to the west, cyclists can bike from Allen Street directly to the First Avenue bike lane again, without having to mix it up with traffic, now that the bike lane is no longer a construction staging area.

Cyclists entering the First Avenue protected bike lane at East First Street. Photo: David Meyer
Entering the First Avenue protected bike lane from Allen Street. Photo: David Meyer
For years, cyclists crossing East Houston Street between the Allen Street and First Avenue protected lanes were forced into traffic by construction zones. Photo: Google Maps
For years, cyclists crossing East Houston Street from Allen Street had to negotiate these construction zones. Image: Google Maps

On the east side of the Houston/First/Allen intersection, there’s a more generous pedestrian median:

Expanded medians at East Houston Street and First Avenue make for safer crossings for pedestrians. Photo: David Meyer
A new median at East Houston Street and First Avenue makes for safer crossings. Photo: David Meyer
East Houston and First Avenue in June 2011. Photo: Google Maps
The same intersection before construction, in June 2011. Photo: Google Maps

Giant construction zones remain at the Bowery and Chrystie Street/2nd Avenue. DDC has said construction will be completed next year.

Still working at East Houston and Bowery. Photo: David Meyer
Still working at East Houston and Bowery. Photo: David Meyer

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

MTA Bus Driver Kills Anna Colon, 73, on the Lower East Side

|
An MTA bus driver killed a senior on the Lower East Side this morning. Anna Colon, 73, was crossing East Houston Street north to south at around 9:50 a.m. when the driver, who was also southbound, hit her while turning left from Avenue D onto East Houston, according to NYPD. “[The light] was about to turn red […]

Segway Users: The Other Minority

|
This is the second essay from Alex Marshall. As a journalist and author Alex has written extensively on transportation issues, he is a senior fellow at the Regional Plan Association where he edits the bi-weekly Spotlight on the Region newsletter. A guy on a Segway rolled by me the other day on 15th street to […]

Eyes on the Street: Queens Boulevard Gets Its Bike Lane

|
It’s happening: DOT crews are putting down green paint and thermoplastic stripes along 1.3 miles of Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street. The redesign is the de Blasio administration’s most significant bike project to date and includes several pedestrian safety improvements as well. It was prompted by a long advocacy campaign for safer biking on the boulevard, […]

Eyes on the Street: Get Ready for the New Gansevoort

|
The view of Gansevoort Plaza looking west. The area to the right of the construction barrels will be set aside for pedestrian use. Looks like the Meatpacking District is about to receive its livable streets makeover. The Open Planning Project’s Lily Bernheimer snapped these shots of Gansevoort Plaza earlier today. The orange barrels and dashed […]