City officials updated members of Community Board 3 last night on the ongoing transformation of the Allen Street pedestrian malls. The Parks and Transportation Departments are in the process of installing new benches, landscaping, bike lanes and turn signals. The project spans from Houston Street all the way to the East River.
DOT spokesperson Colleen Chattergoon said new signals are being installed this week – and that it would take about two weeks to finish that part of the job. Members of CB3’s transportation committee agreed that it didn’t make much sense to evaluate the effectiveness of the changes now – they asked the city to come back six months from now for a full review.
Some CB3 members and LES residents did express concerns about the project. Among the complaints: the planters that have been moved into place between the islands, preventing some streets from automobiles seeking to make turns. One CB3 member was concerned that these mall “connectors” make it impossible for emergency vehicles to get through. Chattergoon countered that firetrucks and ambulances are permitted to cross Allen by driving up on the curb. Saying “we have revisited this issue again and again,” she declared “the mall connectors will remain.”
There was also some discussion about changing the hours in which trucks are allowed to make deliveries to businesses, especially in the vicinity of Hester Street. Some business owners have said trucks have no room to unload because the expanded bike lanes have reduced the amount of room they have to maneuver.
Chattergoon dismissed the suggestion that the DOT has not done enough to communicate the changes to the community. A check of the DOT’s web site turns up a rather confusing document (Download Allenpike-1), outlining the project’s details. There’s a somewhat less bewildering explanation accessible on the community board’s web site.