A standing room only crowd turned out at the 7th Precinct last Wednesday evening to ask a top official from the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) questions about the worsening traffic situation at the intersection of Grand and Clinton streets.
As we reported last week, Community Board 3 and local elected officials have asked the DOT to propose solutions for making the area safer and less congested. At the meeting, Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez said traffic planners are still studying the situation and hope to have an action plan in the months ahead. Here are some of our notes from the meeting at the regularly scheduled Community Council meeting.
–Sanchez acknowledged that there’s simply “too much traffic” navigating the streets of the Lower East Side on the way to the Williamsburg Bridge. He said the lengthy East Houston Street reconstruction project likely prompted many drivers on FDR Drive to take Grand Street instead. Now that the construction is coming to and end, DOT is looking at redirecting (through signage and signal timing adjustments) cars back onto Houston Street.
–Sanchez said DOT is looking at lengthening the exit on FDR Drive above Grand Street in an effort to reduce the number of cars flowing onto Grand Street at any one time.
–Planners are studying whether some bridge-bound traffic on Grand Street can be funneled to Norfolk Street. While it could help relieve Clinton Street’s bottleneck, Sanchez said the adjustment might simply create more problems. “If we change it,” said Sanchez, “a year from now people will be saying, ‘You messed up another intersection.'”
–Sanchez said DOT is looking at whether the south side of Delancey Street (from FDR Drive to Clinton Street) could be turned into a westbound access road to the Williamsburg Bridge. Engineers will be studying whether there’s enough room for vehicles to turn right onto the bridge at Delancey/Clinton.
–While a study of the Clinton/Grand intersection was completed, more work needs to be done. It was difficult to collect accurate date, said Sanchez, due to construction at Essex Crossing. That construction work on Clinton Street will, of course, be ongoing for another couple of years.
–Sanchez urged residents to continue calling 311 about traffic problems on the streets leading to the bridge. He said it’s important to document the trouble spots. People at the meeting begged police officers to step up enforcement of drivers leaning on their horns at all hours of the night.
–Without offering any specifics, Sanchez said the plan for dealing with the looming L Train shutdown would, “help alleviate traffic in the general area.” DOT and the MTA have come under criticism for failing to release the plan in a timely manner. Sanchez it would be made public “very shortly.”
–Part of the L Train traffic management plan entails the installation of a protected bike lane on the south side of Delancey Street. Work will begin on the bike lane in April or May of next year, once the Essex Crossing developers complete construction on their building at Delancey and Essex streets, said Sanchez.