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DOT plans White Plains Road upgrades

The city Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to refurbish a 5.5-mile stretch of White Plains Road between E. Tremont Avenue and E. 233rd Street. Proposals for the thoroughfare include more muni-meters, possible delivery windows for White Plains Road businesses, more curbside parking between Bronxdale and Brady avenues, a reconfigured Gun Hill Road intersection and a raft of traffic changes. One change could accelerate plans for an enlarged Van Nest Park.

A small but engaged group of White Plains Road neighbors reviewed DOT’s plans at a public meeting on Thursday, November 12 at Community Board 12.

“White Plains Road is one of the Bronx’s most important corridors,” DOT Borough Commissioner Constance Moran said. “Our goal is to improve conditions [for those] who depend on it.”

In order to ease White Plains Road traffic in Van Nest, DOT hopes to close Mead Street between White Plains Road and Unionport Road. Mead Street separates the southern end of Van Nest Park from the Van Nest Memorial triangle. Neighbors have asked the Parks Department to rehab and enlarge the park, and have suggested that the Parks Department close Mead Street.

DOT formulated its proposal separately, Moran said. Informed of neighbors’ dialogue with the Parks Department, the borough commissioner said she would reach out to the Parks Department as well. If DOT were to close Mead Street, it would make Unionport Road one-way southbound between Van Nest Avenue and Mead Street.

“DOT’s involvement would be a plus,” Community Board 11 member Bernadette Ferrara said. “The neighborhood was promised a better park in 2004.”

A DOT study has revealed the most congested stretches of White Plains Road: Bronxdale Avenue to Pelham Parkway South, Pelham Parkway South to Pelham Parkway North, Pelham Parkway North to Boston Road and E. 222nd Street to E. 233rd Street. More crashes have occurred between Allerton and E. Gun Hill Road, E. Gun Hill Road and E. 222nd Street, and E. 222nd Street and E. 233rd Street than elsewhere. Pelham Parkway is White Plains Road’s most dangerous intersection.

DOT plans to ban southbound left turns from White Plains Road onto E. Tremont Avenue and westbound right turns from E. Tremont Avenue onto White Plains road. It hopes to increase pedestrian safety where Unionport Road meets White Plains Road, wants add a third lane to westbound Morris Park Avenue at White Plains Road and plans change Sagamore Street between White Plains Road and Cruger Avenue back to two-way.

The jury is still out on changes to White Plains Road at Bronxdale Avenue but DOT will probably install raised curbs around the intersection’s parking spots. DOT hopes to add eastbound and westbound left turn lanes to the Pelham Parkway North Service Road. It may ban eastbound left turns onto Boston Road where White Plains Road curves into Boston Road.

The MTA has ordered a handful changes at the intersection of White Plains Road and E. Gun Hill Road. The most drastic will be a large pedestrian median / bus waiting area on White Plains Road separated from the #2/5 IRT station by a dedicated bus lane. DOT hopes to add a right turn pocket lane on westbound E. 233rd Street at White Plains Road. Re-striped crosswalks, curb extensions and new pedestrians ramps are also planned for the length of White Plains Road.

Wakefield resident Rose Williams thinks busy E. 233rd Street needs more attention. Truck trailers and livery cabs clog the intersection, she said. CB12 district manager Carmen Rosa is concerned about the #2/5 IRT columns on White Plains Road; DOT plans to re-paint the bases of the columns white. In Wakefield, White Plains Road is too narrow for DOT to install pedestrian medians for bus riders.

“Any improvement is good,” Rosa said.

DOT held its first White Plains Road public meeting in October. A third meeting will be held in early 2010.

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