DOT starts Grand Concourse safety plan

A rendering of the proposed Grand Concourse Safety Redesign.
Photo courtesy of Transportation Alternatives

Local elected officials are calling for a complete overhaul of a dangerous Bronx roadway.

On Tuesday, September 27, council members Vanessa Gibson, Andrew Cohen, Ritchie Torres and Fernando Cabrera; Transportation Alternatives; Bronx Health REACH and BronxWorks hosted a conference outside Bronx County Court supporting a comprehensive safety redesign of the Grand Concourse.

Organized by Transportation Alternative’s Bronx Activist Committee, ‘Complete the Concourse’ suggests such life-saving improvements as traffic calming measures, protected bike lanes, 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.

Five-year-old Tierre Clark and 25-year-old Kadeem Brown were killed last year by a speeding taxi driver who jumped the curb as they waited at an East 170th Street bus stop.

A 55-year-old man and 39-year-old woman injured in this same incident were hospitalized and released.

The 44-year-old driver, Emilio Garcia, was charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault and reckless endangerment, according to published reports.

The roadway has been identified by Mayor de Blasio as a ‘Vision Zero Great Street’ and as a ‘priority corridor’ in the NYC Department of Transportation’s Pedestrian Safety Action Plans.

The DOT said it is currently implementing safety enhancements from East 138th to East 158th streets.

These include reducing moving lanes from six to five, installing 14 concrete and two painted median tip extensions at intersections, expanding concrete triangles, closing the East 153rd Street south slip lane with paint and gravel, extending the west sidewalk by Franz Sigel Park in paint and gravel, installing a concrete island and curb extension at East 156th Street, installing parking lanes and channelization to clarify traffic movements, installing bike lanes, creating high visibility crosswalks, updating corridor markings and installing pedestrian ramps.

DOT added, safety enhancements are underway for East 166th to East 171st streets, East 171st to East 175th streets and East 175th Street to Fordham Road.

The department will continue working with the community, stakeholders and local elected officials to address concerns and review safety proposals for the Grand Concourse.

“Some locations along the Grand Concourse have received pedestrian safety improvements from the Department of Transportation, but this entire hazardous corridor needs a ‘Complete Street’ redesign,” said 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,” said Councilwoman Gibson.

“The potential dangers posed by the Grand Concourse make it long overdue for a redesign,” expressed Councilman Torres. “The city should move promptly to revamp the corridor to protect public safety and ensure it can tackle increased traffic demands.”

TransAlt Bronx Activist Committee launched the Complete the Concourse campaign in 2014 with support from Bronx Health REACH, BronxWorks, Bronx Museum of the Arts and Riders Alliance.

More than 3,300 Bronxites have signed the Complete the Concourse petition.

TransAlt Bronx Activist Committee meets every third Wednesday of the month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on 1040 Grand Concourse.

If interested in signing the petition, visit https://www.transalt.org/getinvolved/neighborhood/bronx/grandconcourse.

The Grand Concourse Crash Map displays the number of harmful and fatal crashes along the thoroughfare from July 2012 to August 2016.
Photo courtesy of Transportation Alternatives

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