DOT continues Grand Concourse safety improvements

DOT continues Grand Concourse safety improvements
Photo courtesy of Transportation Alternatives

A dangerous Bronx roadway is undergoing an extensive overhaul.

Dozens of Bronxites joined council members Vanessa Gibson, Andrew Cohen and Ritchie Torres; Transportation Alternatives and Bronx Health REACH for a Complete the Concourse Rally on Thursday, September 14 at Lou Gehrig Plaza supporting a comprehensive safety redesign of the Grand Concourse.

Organized by Transportation Alternatives’ Bronx Activist Committee, ‘Complete the Concourse’ suggests incorporating such life-saving improvements as traffic calming measures, protected bike paths, curb extensions and dedicated bus lanes for the thoroughfare.

According to TransAlt, the 180-foot-wide, 4.5-mile-long road encourages speeding and reckless driving putting thousands of Bronxites at daily risk.

From July 2012 to August 2016, over 1,069 people were injured and 13 were killed along the Concourse, making it a Vision Zero priority corridor.

“Thirteen fatalities on the Grand Concourse is 13 too many,” stated Councilman Cohen. “The many Bronxites who use the Grand Concourse everyday shouldn’t need to be concerned about their safety.”

The corridor is undergoing a four-phase capital program redesign covering East 161st Street to Fordham Road, leaving important stretches of the Concourse without life-saving features.

The Complete the Concourse Coalition is demanding protected bike lanes and bus lanes on the stretch of the thoroughfare already covered by the capital project plan.

“Bronxites need a safe, efficient way to travel to work, school or shops along the Grand Concourse that is inclusive to all forms of transportation: walking, cycling and public transit,” explained Paul Steely White, TransAlt executive director.

“The Grand Concourse is among the most highly trafficked thoroughfares in the city making it particularly deserving of investments that preserve safety and promote economic development,” expressed Gibson.

“The city should move promptly to revamp the corridor to protect public safety and ensure it can tackle increased traffic demands,” said Torres.

NYC Department of Transportation stated Phase I from East 161st to East 166th streets has been completed while Phase II from East 166th to East 171st streets will be finished either this December or January.

As part of this project, the bike lane was re-aligned from alongside the parking lane to the left side of the service roads and painted green.

DOT added this treatment on the northbound service road between East 163rd and East 166th streets.

Phase III’s design from East 171st to East 175th streets is complete and work begins this October. Construction will be completed by fall 2019.

Phase IV from East 175th Street to Fordham Road is finalizing its design and construction should wrap up by winter 2020.

At 1.5 miles, Phase IV is the longest stretch of the thoroughfare to be redesigned.

As with other portions of the Concourse, the medians will be widened and landscaped which will calm traffic, shorten crossing distances and provide more robust refuge for pedestrians.

DOT is also examining the possibility of incorporating raised protected bicycle lanes.