The Department of Transportation yesterday implemented the first part of a plan to improve safety around the Manhattan Bridge. Beginning this week, they’re no longer reversing the direction of the lower roadway during the afternoon rush hour. In an effort to decrease driver and pedestrian confusion, it’s Manhattan-bound at all times. Motorists can still take the upper roadway to Brooklyn.
Dan Wagner, DOT project manager, was at the foot of the bridge yesterday afternoon to monitor traffic flow. The agency invited a few reporters to tag along. Back in May, he appeared before Community Board 3 and outlined a series of changes to alleviate dangerous conditions in the area. By the end of October, the city will have fully implemented the plan, which also calls for creating a new pedestrian refuge/plaza at Bowery and Canal streets and adding a signal and crosswalk in an area they call “Bowery Slip.”
The changes can’t happen too soon. Last month, 83-year-old Ka Chor Yau was struck and killed by the driver of a dump truck as he attempted to cross Canal Street at Bowery.
Wagner said it takes two to four weeks for traffic patterns to adjust, so he’ll be watching to see how the changes impact the commute to and from Brooklyn. From 2009-2013, the DOT reports, there were 133 crashes from vehicles making left turns from Bowery onto the Manhattan Bridge, and 40 crashes from vehicles exiting the Manhattan Bridge from the upper Roadway onto Chrystie Street or Canal Street.