Why Not Build a Bridge Over Delancey Street?

Delancey Street, at Clinton.

As we reported last week, Community Board 3 has approved the city’s plan to improve safety on Delancey Street.  By early summer, the DOT will have narrowed the width of the busy street in several locations, reopened Clinton Street as an access point to the Williamsburg Bridge, changed signal timings and altered certain traffic regulations.  The plan has received generally good reviews in the community.

But there’s one question in particular we keep hearing.  In our comments section and elsewhere, residents ask, “why can’t the city build a pedestrian bridge over Delancey Street?”  Last year, CB3 approved design guidelines for the Seward Park Development Project that stated, “a pedestrian overpass should be built over Delancey Street.”

In several public meetings, city officials have explained why they believe the idea is unworkable. First off, they have said, pedestrian bridge entrance/exit ramps take up a lot of room. At Clinton Street, for example, a new bridge would mean carving out a portion of the site (on the south side of Delancey Street) that will eventually be sold to a private developer. On the north side of the street, there’s a similar problem in that the buildings are all privately owned.

The other problem, DOT planners argued, is that people don’t really use pedestrian bridges — at least that has been the conclusion in other locations where bridges are in use.   As the public review process for the Seward Park project gets underway, it’s likely the issue will come up again.

For the moment, DOT officials have indicated the big residential and commercial development will not trigger any large scale changes on Delancey, beyond the improvements already announced.  At the same time, these officials have indicated, they’ll be studying traffic patterns after the Delancey Street alterations in place, with an eye towards possible tweaking of the plan.

 

9 comments to Why Not Build a Bridge Over Delancey Street?

  • David

    i think it would be a bad idea.

  • Scheme

    I rather they put the Cuchifrito’s back…

  • Joel

    Hey, Ed.  Joel Feingold here — just a point of information.  CB3 did indeed include the pedestrian bridge in its final list of SPURA urban design principles.  The 35-0 vote to approve the urban design principles, including the pedestrian bridge, happened at the June 2011 Full Board meeting:

    “5. Pedestrian safety. A pedestrian overpass should be built over Delancey Street, between Site 2 and Site 9.”
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/mancb3/downloads/minutes/minutes2011-06.pdf

  • Hi Joel,

    Thanks for the clarification. You are correct and the story has been changed to reflect that the overpass was part of the urban design principles approved by CB3.

    At last month’s land use meeting, David McWater (committee chair) said he did not believe the community board had called for a Delancey Street overpass in the guidelines but had wanted the city to study the idea.

    For the record, this is what David Quart (EDC) had to say about a bridge when you asked about it during the meeting:

    “We have consulted with DOT about this and their position on the pedestrian bridge is that they would not build it. There are issues as to where it would land. Pedestrian overpasses can tend to make traffic go faster… (based on previous experience the DOT believes) most people would use the street anyway.”

  • I’m a UWS, and on our busy and wide intersection of Broadway and 86th there are a lot of kids crossing and a good deal of senior citizens who use wheeled walkers, needing extra time.  It appears the lights, which now have countdown timers, have been made longer for pedestrians crossing Broadway.

    I can’t see seniors ever using a bridge, which would require an elevator, etc.  Seems narrowing and timers, along with reduced turning along Delancey, might be the best solution for now.

  • ssw

    Pedestrian bridges are not used very much unless people are forced to use them.  If a pedestrian bridge were installed, that would be a perfect excuse to eliminate the street-level crosswalk.  So a pedestrian bridge would be a hindrance, not a help, to making Delancey pedestrian friendly.  The cars passing by are not more important than the pedestrians in the neighborhood.

  • Professor Von Nostren

    If not a bridge, how about a pedestrian tunnel?

  • David

     Also it cuts of the nab by installing such a huge barrier.  It would block the view of the bridge as well.  I think it’s a bad idea.

  • wrockwell

    Why not bring foot traffic below, as part of the Low Line!