A busy portion of the Bronx will soon include pedestrian islands and other safety enhancements to improve both traffic and pedestrian safety.
A DOT spokesperson recently confirmed the current installation of five pedestrian islands and other safety enhancements in Westchester Square as part of the East Tremont Avenue Traffic Study, years after numerous complaints from community members and political leaders.
The installations, which will take place on East Tremont Avenue between Ericson Place and Westchester Avenue, will provide a multitude of benefits to an area of the Bronx that has previously suffered from a lack of safe crossing options and sees over 25,000 bus riders from the Bx40 and Bx42 daily.
The existing issues in that southern portion of Westchester Square includes wide, undefined moving and parking lanes, speeding, long diagonal crosswalks and lack of crosswalks at various locations.
According to the NYS DOT, 218 motor vehicles injuries, 59 pedestrian injuries and 10 bike injuries took place on the stretch of East Tremont Avenue between 2009 and 2013.
Pending installation, the new pedestrian islands and safety enhancements should assist the current travel problems in the area.
Specifically, the pedestrian island installations will take place just past Frisby Avenue, just before Ponton Avenue and just before Ericson Place.
Two pedestrian islands will also be installed at the intersection of East Tremont Avenue and Westchester Avenue.
This particular project, which also includes the installation of two neckdowns, two large island expansions, crosswalks and pedestrian ramps, should alleviate and relieve traffic while creating better traveling situations for pedestrians.
“Having pedestrian islands in Westchester Square will eliminate traffic because the pedestrians who will stand on the islands waiting to cross would have otherwise been in the street and blocking traffic, creating a dangerous scenario and increasing traffic backup,” said Ken Kearns, district manager for Community Board 10. “CB 10 supported this portion of the (East Tremont Avenue Traffic Study) plan and, in that particular area, it should help both sides – drivers and pedestrians.”
The installation of these safety enhancements in Westchester Square was originally part of the larger planned project that included the narrowing of lanes on East Tremont Avenue from Ericson Place to Bruckner Boulevard for wider parking spaces on the street and to improve traffic flow.
Another part of the original plan also included the installation of a turning lane and turning East Tremont Avenue from two lanes to one lane each way.
Both parts of this plan never came to fruition because of community concern, the majority of which strongly opposed the project.