Last week, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, local elected officials and community leaders gathered on Delancey Street to celebrate the new safety improvements implemented during the past several months. During a midday news conference, with trucks and cars roaring past television cameras, Sadik-Khan declared, “crossing Delancey should not be just for the brave of heart,” and she promised an “unrelenting focus on safety” on the street as well as throughout the city.
Among those attending the press event was Teresa Pedroza, whose granddaughter, 12-year old Dashane Santana, was killed at the intersection of Delancey and Clinton streets earlier this year. City officials were already looking at changing traffic patterns along the deadly corridor before the tragedy but the accident served as an impetus for the improvements. State Senator Daniel Squadron said, “nothing will bring Dashane back… but hopefully because of this (accident) we can ensure that there are no more tragedies on Delancey Street.”
The officials staged the news conference in the middle of a new 14,000 square foot pedestrian plaza. Planters, tables and chairs have been added to a large area on the south side of Delancey west of Clinton Street. The DOT was able to access federal transportation funds to pay for the work. Future improvements will be funded by the LES Business Improvement District, which is responsible for maintaining the plazas.
In the months ahead, the BID will be looking at adding one or more food vendors to the plaza, and possibly scheduling some cultural or other community-oriented events. They’ll be working with Community Board 3 to solicit feedback from local residents. The big question, of course, is this: will people really want to hang out on Delancey Street, one of the busiest corridors in the city? It will likely be next spring before the concession program begins.