New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito today announced substantial completion of pedestrian safety improvements in East Harlem on Park Avenue, from East 96th to 111th Streets, along the Metro North Viaduct. DOT completed these improvements over two phases, with the first phase finished summer 2014 and the second phase to be completed later this summer. The project’s corridor saw 236 injuries due to traffic collisions, with eleven of them being severe, from 2009-2013. From 2009, there were one pedestrian fatality and three cyclist fatalities. They were joined by City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez and community leaders at Park Avenue and East 106th Street.
“Vision Zero aims to improve street safety—especially on streets that were not designed with pedestrians in mind,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “With the building of the Metro North Viaduct over 100 years ago, we are making street and pedestrian improvements to this East Harlem neighborhood that are decades overdue.”
“With the completion of this section of the Park Ave Corridor, these improvements will help East Harlem residents confidently cross the city’s streets without fear of getting into an accident,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito. “I want to commend the New York City Department of Transportation for working with us and listening to concerns and feedback from local New Yorkers and community groups to come up with a viable solution that best serves the community’s needs. All New Yorkers deserve safe streets and today is a great example of government working together to achieve that.”
“In order to make Vision Zero a reality we need to create systemic change, not only in our approach to our streets but also our streets themselves. Thanks to the leadership of the NYC Department of Transportation and Speaker Mark-Viverito, today we celebrate real change on the Park Avenue corridor that will help save dozens of lives and prevent hundreds of injuries,” said City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “Congratulations to the residents of East Harlem. Today your children are that much safer.”
“Every day I have over 450 students cross under the Park Avenue Viaduct to and from school to catch the 6 Train at 103rd and Lexington,” said Bennett Lieberman, Principal at Central Park East High School. “The new pedestrian safety improvements have made the route for my students far safer. The cement islands at all viaduct intersections along Park Ave have made being a pedestrian in our neighborhood immeasurably safer.”
The improvements include 29 concrete neckdowns, at 102nd-103rd and 106th-111th Streets. Additionally, DOT painted neckdowns and installed new markings, at 96th Street and Park Avenue. On Park Avenue, DOT added a northbound left turn bay at East 96th Street, to better control traffic flow. 26 pedestrian signals were newly installed on the viaduct. New and improved LED lights were installed inside the tunnel for better lighting and visibility. The improvements shorten pedestrian crossings, enhance visibility for all road users, calm traffic, and update the lighting inside the tunnel. All pedestrian ramps that were installed were ADA compliant.
This project was first requested from the Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito back in 2013 and DOT presented the local community board with a proposal in March 2014, and construction for the project began April 2014. The full corridor of safety updates is anticipated to be complete later this summer.