New York City planning a pedestrian-safety overhaul the dangerous approach to the Manhattan Bridge

City Terrain East Transportation Urbanism
The Manhattan Bridge approach as-is. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

The Manhattan Bridge approach as-is. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

Vision Zero is coming to the dangerous and traffic-clogged Manhattan Bridge approach in Chinatown. The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has presented a plan to rearrange the tangle of streets that connect to the bridge, create new space for pedestrians, and update traffic flows.

New pedestrian space. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

New pedestrian space. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

It doesn’t take any expert knowledge in transportation policy to see why the area has been labeled as a “high crash corridor” by the NYCDOT. There are a lot of cars, unclear and changing alignments, and street markings that are faded, if present at all. For pedestrians, getting from one side of the street to another can be a harrowing experience. The Bowery crossing, for example, is almost 90 feet wide. But that could all change soon.

New curb extensions. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

New curb extensions. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

Perhaps the most significant change in the plan is the rerouting of traffic. Currently, the bridge’s lower roadway heads toward Brooklyn from 3:00–9:00p.m., but the NYCDOT wants to make it Manhattan-bound at all times instead. This would allow for a large curb extension right in front of the bridge. Crossing distances for those on foot would be reduced further by the expansion of two existing pedestrian islands. These new areas would include planters, so the plan comes with some greenery too. Over on Bowery, a concrete median extension would provide pedestrian refuge in the middle of the busy roadway. The DOT also proposes new marked sidewalks and signaled intersections to further clear things up.

Forsyth Street Plaza. (Courtesy DDC)

Forsyth Street Plaza. (Courtesy DDC)

This plan comes as construction continues on a long-talked-about scheme to turn a triangular plot next to the Manhattan Bridge into the Forsyth Street Plaza. The 10,000-square-foot pedestrian space will cost about $3.5 million and is slated to be completed spring 2016.

As for the NYCDOT plan, Streetsblog reported that it will be voted on by Community Board 3 on May 26. If approved, work would start this summer and wrap up in the fall.

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