FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release #08-044
DOT announces major pedestrian and traffic redesign at the Bronx Hub
15,000 new feet of pedestrian plaza space, safer and shorter pedestrian crossings, easier transit transfers and bike lanes at the borough's busiest intersection
New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion today unveiled a major intersection redesign and traffic-calming project at the Bronx Hub, bringing abundant new pedestrian space and simplifying traffic crossings at the five-legs of 149th Street and Willis and Third avenues in the South Bronx-the borough's busiest intersection. The changes bring some 15,000 square feet of new pedestrian plaza and expanded sidewalk space atop former roadbed, add 4.8 miles of bike lanes from the southern tip of the Bronx northward, and reduce traffic congestion to improve bus flow for many MTA/New York City Transit bus lines. Delivering public plazas and expanding public space are key goals of the Mayor's PlaNYC initiatives and the DOT's sustainability agenda as outlined in its strategic plan. Representatives of Bronx Community Board 2, South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and the HUB Third Avenue Business Improvement also attended today's announcement in the Hub's newly expanded Robert Clemente Plaza.
"They call this place the Hub because it's a critical commercial and transit nexus for the neighborhood-and for the borough," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "This redesign brings new public space and increased mobility by making the Bronx's streets work for transit and pedestrians, which also helps define its neighborhoods and drive its small businesses."
"The redesign of the HUB, a gateway to the Bronx, has created a safer and significantly improved intersection and increased public space in one of the busiest areas of the borough, Said Borough President Carrion. "This is an outstanding example of how good, responsible planning must prioritize useable public space and practical solutions to traffic congestion and public transportation."
The project area encompasses five streets which run into or near the Bronx's busiest crossroads-three at the main intersection, and Courtland Avenue and East 152nd Street. A major feature of the project is to connect the east sidewalk of Willis Avenue to the existing Roberto Clemente Plaza, just south of East 149th Street, effectively turning Willis Avenue between East 148th and 149th Streets into a 6,800 square-foot plaza. This car-free area
provides greatly needed pedestrian space and enhances the space where commuters can transfer between two subway lines and five bus lines. The City Department of Small Business Services funded plantings in the pots to demarcate the spaces. A new bus-only lane now connects Third and Willis Avenues, separated from other traffic by a planting bed that the City Parks Department will landscape at East 148th Street. The improvements have expanded the area to be constructed in the next few years as the Roberto Clemente Plaza project, which was initiated by the Department of City Planning and managed by the Department of Design and Construction under contract with DOT.
DOT made a comprehensive study of the intersection beginning in the summer of 2007, finding congestion, chaotic traffic movements and problems with transit connections. Work began on the project in August 2008 and was completed last month. East 149th Street now features two new pedestrian refuge islands on both sides of Third Avenue, providing pedestrians with short crossings and a safe place to stop when crossing the intersection.
Other improvements at the Hub include:
- Southbound vehicles on Melrose Avenue may only turn right at 149th Street, whereas previously they were also allowed to proceed through the intersection onto Third Avenue. A former northbound travel route for buses on Melrose has also been eliminated. This simplifies traffic movements and eliminates the need to divide the traffic signal cycle into three phases; the signal now has a standard two-phase operation. Eliminating the bus left-turns onto Melrose Avenue across southbound Third Avenue traffic not only improved traffic flow but made vehicle movements more predictable for pedestrian safety.
- The conversion of East 148th Street to a one-way westbound bus-only route between Willis and Third Avenues while allowing other traffic to continue eastbound on E. 148th Street and north onto Bergen Avenue or Saint Ann's Avenue. The island corner was demolished and new roadbed constructed to accommodate the bus turns onto Third Avenue. Further north on Third Avenue, a new left-turn signal and turn lane were added to assist buses turning onto East 152nd Street to continue north on Melrose Avenue.
- Courtlandt Avenue has been converted from a one-way northbound to one-way southbound between East 149th Street and East 146th Street at Third Avenue, which better balances north/south traffic in the area. Previously, Third Avenue was paralleled by northbound corridors. The Courtlandt Avenue reversal has the added benefit of creating an intersection on East 149th where an all-pedestrian phase naturally occurs when Courtlandt Avenue gets the green since all traffic flows north or south from East 149th, not across it.
- Nearly five miles of bicycle lanes are added to the Bronx, including a fully separated bike path between East 148th and East 149th Streets. Bike network connectivity between Manhattan and the Bronx is improved, as is the ability for bike riders to connect to mass transit.
- In addition to the 6,800 square feet of public space at Roberto Clemente Plaza, more than 8,000 square feet has been added in sidewalk extensions and other pedestrian space.