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Grand Killer Block Still Looking for a Fix


Colleen Chattergoon, representing the Department of Transportation, and CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer


A satellite image of the Grand and FDR intersection reveals most cars hit the median when turning


Ilaid Irizzary, 92, was killed by a shuttle bus on Grand Street last month

by Yori Yanover

Last night at the Community Board 3 Public Transportation Committee meeting, Chairman David Crane got fairly quickly to the business of traffic problems on Grand Street near the FDR Drive.

On September 26, near the corner of Grand and Lewis Streets (one block from the FDR) Ilaid Irizzary, 92, was hit by a shuttle bus and later died. This prompted a minor email campaign on the part of LoHo10002.com, resulting in the quick scheduling of the CB3 discussion and in a letter from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation Iris Weinshall.

The letter reflected the most recent discussion of the dangerous Grand Street block at CB3, and so emphasized problems around the corner of Grand and the FDR. This led to some confusion, as both Colleen Chattergoon, representing the Department of Transportation at the meeting, and CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer said they could not find out details on the fatal accident from the Seventh Precinct or the DOT.

Our speculation is that they probably asked about an accident at the corner of Grand and the FDR and the cops had it at Grand and Lewis.

Committee member Morris Faitelewicz and yours truly, both residents of Grand Street, informed the committee on the realities of the block, which include:

Insufficient traffic directions at the intersection – It is unclear to motorists arriving at the corner of Grand and the Drive that the right lane is supposed to turn into Cherry Street, while the left lane must proceed directly onto the Drive.

Dangerous exit from highway to street – Up until 9/11, there was no direct access to Grand Street from the FDR, and cars had to first get on the service road, come to a full stop at the corner stop sign (no lights back then) and make the turn onto Grand. After closing off the street entirely following 9/11, the DOT reopened it with two parallel entries from highway to street, one at the old service road, the other directly from the highway. As a result, cars are entering the street at highway speeds, then increase speed to make the green light at Grand and Lewis.

Terrible construction – Satellite pictures show that the tire marks left by cars making the turn onto Grand from the Drive actually end up on the median, rather than within the west-bound lane. This is because of the raised median separating the highway from the service road, which extends too far into the intersection.

Too many busses – That same stretch of Grand Street between Lewis and the FDR is also home to the last stop of the M14 and the M22 busses. As the herd of articulated behemoths congregate to graze and chat, much like their ancestral brontosaurus, they force traffic into a single, and often less than a single lane. Add to that the school busses serving the special ed school at 577 Grand, which are double parked in droves just west of the articulated busses, and you’ve got yourself a major transportation nightmare. In fact, the shuttle bus driver who killed Ilaid Irizzary was reported as driving east on the west-bound lane, trying to avoid the bus congestion.

No mid-block pedestrian crossing – On this very long block with a disproportionately large number of senior citizens and children, the only options for pedestrians to cross are at either end. An obvious spot for a mid-block crossing would connect the park gates of the two East River Housing parks, where many local residents do their actual street crossing, risking their lives.

This reporter presented all these facts to the same committee last November, and the board requested the DOT to study and remedy these issues. But almost a full year later, the DOT representative had little to say about the study results or the implementation. The chairman decided to give them until the next meeting, in November, to come and present what they intend to do, preferably before another one of us is killed.

Our thanks to Chairman David Crane who facilitated a useful and necessarily informal discussion, soliciting information from the audience and making the appropriate demands of the DOT without letting the debate get out of hand.

Our thanks also to Speaker Silver, without whose letter to the DOT commissioner our plight would probably not have been paid as much attention to by the City.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing that needs to happen there is a walk light or delay for pedestrians only. Also what happens is everyone j-walks from buses. Not an easy solution.

10/13/2006 10:53 AM  
Anonymous J-Walk said...

In the future I think we would all appreciate you substituting BLOCK OF DEATH for Killer Block is insufficently hysterical and alarmist and too subtle by half frankly.

Possibly headlines

BLOCK OF DEATH COVERED WITH THE BLOOD OF ITS MANY VICTIMS

BLOCK OF DEATH; WHEN WILL IT KILL AGAIN?

BLOCK OF DEATH; DOOM HANGS OVER THE BLOCK

10/16/2006 12:54 AM  
Anonymous J-Walk said...

A MILLION WIDOWS WEEP FOR THE BLOCK OF DEATH

THE SPECTRE OF DEATH STALKS THE BLOCK OF DEATH

THE BLOCK OF DEATH; MANKIND'S GREATEST THREAT

10/16/2006 12:57 AM  

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