What Happened to the Pedestrian Islands on Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen?

They've been removed for a DDC water main project that's not slated to wrap up until 2021.

Photo: Kurt Cavanaugh
Photo: Kurt Cavanaugh

A few readers have written in asking about the disappearing pedestrian islands on Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen. The concrete islands next to the bike lane shorten crossing distances and slow drivers turning onto Ninth Avenue. A few weeks ago, the city started tearing them out.

What’s the deal? We checked in with the Department of Design and Construction to find out.

The good news is that the pedestrian islands are not gone forever. The bad news is that they might not be back for at least four years:

Traffic islands on Ninth Avenue from West 51st Street to West 59th Street are being temporarily removed so that new water mains can be installed. Currently, islands have been removed from West 51st Street to West 55th Street. The remaining will be removed within the next month. Construction will be completed in 2021.

DDC says the bike lane will be maintained in some form during construction.

As complex as NYC’s subsurface infrastructure may be, four years seems like an awfully long time to replace water mains on ten city blocks — and that’s if DDC stays on schedule, which is rare.

The islands at 53rd and Ninth in their natural state.
The islands at 53rd and Ninth in their natural state.
  • nanter

    4 years?? good grief

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Turn the bike lane into a cyclepath while they’re doing the work. No more gutter conditions please?

  • AMH

    Incredible, they can’t work around a few islands? Those trees never had a chance.

  • Ken Dodd

    Any city job is going to be horribly inefficient and slow. There are no incentives to get it done on time, so everything will be done at a snail’s pace. Expect long periods of time during which construction equipment creates a big mess of the road and causes traffic havoc, but no work appears to be going on. Just look at the state of E Houston St over the last 7 years. And it’s STILL a mess. It was slated to be finished in 2013! And then they changed it to 2016. Now they’re saying “spring 2017” but we all know how that will turn out. You watch: as soon as they open up 9th Avenue, they will find “complications” which necessitate the coordination and cooperation of construction companies and utility companies, and the whole thing will become a huge inefficient knot of red tape and featherbedding which goes on for years.

  • Vooch

    because the death and maiming of a few pedestrians is worth preserving all motor lanes

  • walks bikes drives

    Wait, you don’t like riding over storm drains and street grates? Why not?

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    I wouldn’t even mind those so much as long as the pavement was smooth and level and they were flush with it.

  • d of hk

    If it’s anything like what went on in front my 10th Ave building, several different companies are involved, so there’s a lot of waiting around for the “next guy” to do his job, so that “we” can finish our job.But 4 years is nothing, we dealt with it for 12!

  • Correction, they will come back but NOT with the same design: the trees will be removed. in their infinite wisdom, the DEP has decided to install the water pipe 30 ft under the parking lane and refuge and has a new policy that no trees should be planted above the pipe. So a parked car is ok but a tree is not . It is very disheartening.

  • Brian Howald

    Why did they have to repave the area after removing the islands? Couldn’t they have just left some rubble for traffic calming?

  • NYCyclist

    DDC is apparently not using design-build, which speeds up projects and saves money. This recent article discusses it in the context of the BQE. Of course, Cuomo is to blame for disallowing its widespread implementation in NYC:

    Link to article past paywall: https://t.co/7Heuecolfc

    “For years, an upstate political logjam has prevented the city from using design-build, an innovative way of delivering large infrastructure projects that can save time and money by pairing architects and builders in the very first stages of development…

    “Upstate public employee and construction unions see the city as a bellwether for broader implementation of the program, which they fear will lead to the loss of jobs for their members. But here in the city, unions, construction groups and legislators are in near-unanimous agreement that design-build will simply allow tax dollars to be spent more efficiently without costing jobs.”


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