Crossing Delancey To Get Safer

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Delancey Street (photo by Joseph A. via flickr)

Delancey Street -- a busy multi-lane street on Manhattan's Lower East Side -- will be getting a major safety overhaul.

"We've got a plan to make it even easier to cross Delancey and really make it more of a street again," said New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The city will widen sidewalks and change the timing of lights to give pedestrians more time to cross. All told, 14 of the street's 19 crosswalks will be shortened.   Some left turns will now be restricted, and a service lane will be eliminated. "We're going to make it much clearer for pedestrians and drivers to understand how to cross and use the street," said Sadik-Khan, who called it "the most concerted effort that's ever been brought to bear on Delancey Street."

She said the redesign will add 14,000 square feet of additional pedestrian space to Delancey between Norfolk and Clinton Street. Large planters, maintained by the local business improvement district, will help delineate the space.

The street leads to the Williamsburg Bridge and is considered among the city's most dangerous; in a statement today, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer called it "a nightmare for pedestrians." The city has made safety improvements over the years, but the issue vaulted to the forefront last month when a 12-year old girl was killed while crossing the intersection of Delancey and Clinton Streets.

“The problems along Delancey have been hidden in plain sight for decades,” said Sadik-Khan.  On Wednesday night, the proposed changes will be presented at a special meeting of Community Board 3.

New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, who said he created the Delancey Street Working Group last year in order to make the street safer, was pleased with the DOT's response. "These changes on their own don't solve every problem, and we're going to need to monitor them," he said. "What they are is they are a dramatic change in a short time frame, and it's going to make a real improvement."

The city said it wants to implement the changes this June. To see the plan, go here (pdf).