Back in June, Community Board 3 asked the Department of Transportation to fix the auto bottleneck at Clinton and Grand streets. This week, city officials came back to CB3 with a plan.
Last year, the DOT changed the traffic flow on Clinton so that cars could turn off of Grand Street in order to access the Williamsburg Bridge. The move was part of a larger street redesign program intended to improve pedestrian safety on Delancey and the surrounding area. Since the changes were implemented, auto gridlock extending almost all the way to FDR Drive has become an everyday occurrence and the intersection is even less hospitable for people on foot.
Tuesday evening, CB3’s transportation committee was briefed by Sean Quinn, a DOT planning coordinator. He said the agency heard the community’s concerns and had been working on adjustments aimed at encouraging alternative routes to the bridge and improving signage, so motorists know about those alternatives.
First of all, DOT has already added five seconds to the signal at Clinton and Delancey streets, so a few more cars can make a right turn onto the bridge. The signal is now green for 35 seconds. Second, traffic engineers will be creating a second lane of traffic on Grand Street (by eliminating a painted median) so that cars who prefer to access the bridge via Norfolk Street have room to get through the Clinton/Grand intersection.
Still to come, the agency is working on adding signs on FDR Drive to advise motorists about the Norfolk Street route. The road signs will also direct cars to the bridge via Houston/Essex streets. This part of the plan will take some time to implement since the city doesn’t have jurisdiction over FDR Drive (they’re coordinating with state officials).
These changes were detailed in a letter DOT sent to the community board in August. You can read it here.
While there had been some talk over the summer of eliminating or reducing the size of the Clinton Street bike lane, Quinn said DOT decided against this move because the bike lanes in the area are heavily used.