Third Project Advisory Meeting – 09-03-2009 Community comments

 TAC3 meeting

 The Project Advisory Committee (PAC) members of the Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Transportation study are very pleased with the results of the study to date that the Department of Transportation (DOT) presented on September 3, 2009, at the third PAC meeting. Please convey our appreciation to Andrew Lenton and the members of his team for his thoroughness and his collaborative spirit.

 The study started in July 2007 with a target end date of July 2009 to focus on pedestrian safety and traffic congestion in an area from 29th to 55th Streets, 8th to 12th Avenues. Indeed, we are disappointed that it will take another 15 months before the study completion. However, the wait will be worth it, if this delay allows for a more complete analysis, the implementation of additional short-term solutions and better long-term solutions.

 We understand that the information you presented is incomplete at this time. As a result, the pedestrian crash analysis is still sketchy.  Nevertheless, solutions you are considering align well with community goals and input. Overall pedestrian safety and mass transit improvements remain prominent concerns to be addressed.

The scope of analysis is very comprehensive. We have only a few suggestions: the study omits three locations originally included in the scope and ought to include four intersections where fatalities occurred. In addition, the weekend peak hours are not representative and need recalibration, if not for all intersections, at a minimum on Lincoln tunnel access routes. You will find our detailed comments at the end of this letter.

We are very pleased with the solutions the DOT has already implemented.  In particular the “feathering down of green light on 9th Avenue” and the “bus stop extension eastward on 42nd Street” are very welcome news, as well as the relocation of a bus layover from 43rd Street and the implementations of various markings at congested intersections. 

The items considered for immediate action are excellent and will be a big help in the short term. We recommend you include signage for alternate routes at three locations, a day lighting installation and Lead Pedestrian Intervals at three critical crossings as well as a No trucks signage on 55th Street. We listed all of our suggestions at the end of this document.

 The community will need education on the Park Smart program to evaluate if it is appropriate in our district, once the current distribution of curbside usage between commercial loading, charter bus layover, placard parking, residential parking and private transient automobile is clearer.

 The PAC members recommend that all the solutions listed in the document with this community feedback be included in the study. Those identified as “concepts” should be renamed “Long Term Interagency” as the Bus garage for example, is well past the concept stage.  To our knowledge, the Robert Moses’ era – over 50 years ago – was the last time our district was the object of a comprehensive study when the Lincoln Tunnel was created. Recent re-zonings are converting the majority of the district from manufacturing uses to a mix of residential and commercial uses, harboring massive residential developments. The various FEIS have proposed a long list of traffic and pedestrian safety mitigation measures.  This study is the perfect opportunity to consider all aspects of the current system and provide for preemptive integrated mitigation. 

 At the next PAC meeting, a protocol should be agreed upon for retaining and eliminating solutions based on various criteria – technical and otherwise – to be agreed upon with the community.  The PAC members are confident that the more technical information is shared, the more constructive compromises will be reached.

 With all solutions studied – including the ”long-term Interagency “, -which soon will be short term!- and a continued priority given to pedestrian safety, the study is on track to address the community concerns in a comprehensive way. PAC members were delighted to see so many agencies’ personnel attending the third Project Advisory Committee. We hope they will increase their participation in the dialogue, in particular the Port Authority, a towering presence in our neighborhood.

The PAC members are very grateful to the DOT team for their work to date and look forward to a constructive dialogue on the above points in advance of the public meeting to be held in January 2010.

For the PAC members

Christine Berthet and Martin Treat

Detailed Comments

 ANALYSIS

Peak Hour congestion

  • We are very surprised that 9th Avenue between 43rd and 41st Streets do not show as a congested location. Our daily visual sampling indicates that it is extremely congested. We think that a new measurement would be helpful.
  • All community members and Marc Schaff from the Port Authority confirm that Weekend Peak Hours should be measured from 4 to 6 p.m. due to the Lincoln Tunnel operation of three lanes in each way.  At these hours, the traffic is gridlocked on every weekend. See also Eric Muise comments on the scope on January 13th , 2008

2005-2007 Reportable accidents

  • Four key intersections where pedestrians were killed are missing from the intersections to be analyzed. We request that you include them in the analysis
    • 38th Street on the East side of 9th, ( in 2008)
    • 9th Avenue at 37th  ( in 2007 , died after 6 months in coma )
    • 45th Street on the West side of 9th (2 fatalities in 2007 and in 2003)
    • 8th Avenue at 40th Street where a woman was killed by a turning bus two weeks ago
    • 2005 – 2007 reportable accident data is very interesting. We look forward to the same type of analysis for pedestrians and bicycle crashes to better understand what drivers/ pedestrian movements caused the crashes

Areas of analysis:

  • Pedestrian analysis locations should include 37th, 39th and 41st on 8th Avenue as planned in the final scoping document. 
  • It would be helpful if the parking analysis and representation included bus layover areas, as well as current long distance bus stops, considering the current emphasis on this citywide problem.

Parking chart

  • Is this chart completed yet? We cannot find any of the existing alternate side parking regulations. Will you show illegal placard parking? There are entire blocks used illegally by police and other agencies’ cars, thus reducing the overall capacity.

Traffic counts:

  • Is it possible to obtain new counts of turning movements at 47th Street and 8th Avenue, which will show the impact of the Broadway closing?

ACTIONS

 Early actions implemented

We are really pleased and grateful for all of them.  In particular the “feathering down on 9th avenue” and the “bus extension on 42nd Street” are very welcome news.

 Early action recommended

CB4 will start assembling a list of top candidates for the speed reducer program. Could you provide us with some guidelines on feasible locations in order to manage expectations?

  • We were under the impression that an LPI would be installed shortly at 38th Street following the pedestrian fatality there 10 months ago. Is there a schedule for it?
  • Could the 42nd Street bus shelter be moved as well to complete the extension of the bus stop?

 Early Action items under consideration

 All of the items listed are excellent and will help tremendously in the short term. In addition, the following items have been discussed as candidates for early actions:

  • Alternate Route to Tunnel signs: The community has long requested that at 37th & 39th and 9th, and 34th and Dyer, Alternate Route to Lincoln tunnel signage be installed to relieve the gridlock there. You indicated in the meeting that you would check with the NYPD to verify that such signs would not conflict with truck inspections at 11th Avenue. DOT could also install temporary signage and test the impact on 11th Avenue.
  • LPI:
    • We had suggested that 45th Street and 9th Avenue was a good candidate for an early action since two pedestrian fatalities occurred there.
    • Community members also indicated during the meeting that the crossing of 41st Street west of 9th Avenue was extremely dangerous for pedestrians (close to a Pre-kindergarten located at 40th Street and next to the Hunter College of fine arts on 41st Street). An LPI for pedestrian or an exclusive phase is urgently needed at the location where a pedestrian was killed in 2001.
  • Day lighting: during the walk through, community members had shown the southwest corner of 29th Street and 8th Avenue where parked trucks obstruct the line of sight between senior pedestrians and drivers on this major truck route to the Lincoln tunnel.
  • Charter Bus Layover : layovers adjacent to public parks ( 52nd and 54th Streets between 11th and 12th Avenues should be relocated on any of the following blocks : 49th, 50th, 51st, or 56th Streets between 11th and 12th Avenues which are mainly commercial  

Short Term Improvements to consider for possible inclusion in the study

 We are pleased with the inclusion of the truck redirect to 11th Avenue. However, the signage should direct trucks to truck routes and not let them use residential streets.

  • As proposed not only 41st Street but also 39th Street should become preferred routes for trucks and buses.
  • We still need to consider extending the one-way section of 11th Avenue toward the north to alleviate congestion further south and balance load with other avenues. This will also enable the installation of a BRT line and a bike lane as indicated in CB4 resolution. However the residents of upper 11th Avenue between 50th and 57th Street would prefer it, if the avenue remained two ways for emergency vehicles access and traffic calming.
  •  Banning left turn from 42nd to 9th Avenue:  a short-term improvement could consist in adding a red arrow phase and moving the green arrow phase to the end of the cycle to increase pedestrian safety.
  • Banning the right turn from 9th Avenue onto 41st Street should be also studied. This will complement the designation of 41st and 39th street as truck routes and will remove the incentives for trucks and buses to use 9th Avenue. CB4 had sent a resolution to this effect.
  • Bus service improvements are sorely needed: it seems that a painted bus lane at critical locations on 9th and 10th Avenue would achieve measurable results. It would also provide a fast lane for emergency vehicles and fire engines. In addition, the NJ Transit bus queue (into the PA Bus Station) needs to be relocated on the adjacent lane (outside the reserved MTA bus lane).
  • Relocation of Long distance Low Cost bus stops: the long distance bus stop located in the 34th Street BRT lane between 8th and 9th avenue could be relocated on the south side of 33rd Street, west of 9th Avenue near the corner, adjacent to the parking lot. This has become not only a transit but also a pedestrian issue.
  • Emergency services: in addition to bus lanes. We hope that an override will be installed at 38th and 9th, as this intersection is one of the most gridlocked in Manhattan and a main fire engine route.
  • Reconfiguring the intersection of 41St Street, currently listed as long term, could be a short-term improvement. The Port Authority is reconstructing the sidewalk as we speak and it would require minimal coordination to complete the realignment at minimal cost.
  • Reopening the Holland Tunnel to truck traffic is also an option that should be considered as it is very low cost and would return to the balanced approach between commercial and residential districts
  • Directing truck traffic to the west side highway should also be envisioned to reduce the trucks on the west side.
  • Creating a bike parking under the triple bridge should be contemplated to improve transit to bicycle.
  • Restoring a pedestrian crossing at 36th street should be part of the short tem improvements: it is inexpensive and a matter of pedestrian safety as so many pedestrians walk in the middle of the ramp.. 

 Long Term Improvements to consider for possible inclusion in the study

  •  Bus service is of highest priority to the community, thus protected bus lanes on 9th and 10th Avenues  with a median would be most welcome This lane would also help the circulation of emergency vehicles.
  • Since 9th Avenue has had the most bicycle crashes (as per your report), extension of the bike lane (currently from 31st to 14th Street) up to 59th Street would serve to protect not only cyclists but also pedestrians, since this improvement entails installation of 100% protected pedestrian crossing times. A similar extension of the 8th Avenue bike lane to 59th Street would have the same result there.
  • Alternatively, a bus / bike lane combination on 9th and 10th Avenues would also provide much needed reserved public transit space, as well as help the circulation of emergency vehicles.
  • As discussed earlier a BRT lane on 11th Avenue is of increasing importance.
  • We recommend that Reconfiguration of Ramp C be broken in two items :
    • to conform to the new street design manual with narrow radius corners like all other highway accesses in Manhattan  and convert the perpendicular parking and sidewalk area into a small plaza. This solution should be added to the long-term improvements.
    • The second is to reduce the ramp capacity and create a park, which remains categorized as a concept.
  • A new suggestion of switching the outgoing bus lanes from the north tube to center tube and dedicating that lane to buses would significantly improve bus throughput and reduce congestion on 9th Avenue.
  • Charter Bus garage should be split in two projects :
    • Combined with New Jersey bus garage at Galvin Plaza
    • Identification of medium term multiple parking lots

Concept interagency section should be renamed : Long term Interagency

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