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WPR sees mostly negative impact from Vision Zero

Bronx Times
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Traffic congestion has become the major issue on White Plains Road.

According to local residents and merchants, traffic has become the number one issue on White Plains Road, even after road traffic safety project Vision Zero and other safety enhancements were implemented for a stretch of the corridor to improve traffic flow less than two years ago.

The bumper-to-bumper traffic between Bronxdale and Waring avenues during rush hours has become insane.

Vehicles are stuck in the same spot for as long as 20 minutes, waiting for the traffic to break up.

Double parked cars and trucks, which eliminate a travel lane, are contributing to the havoc.

Another contributing factor is the result of Vision Zero, which reduced the the number of travel lanes from four down to two on White Plains Road from East Tremont to Birchall avenues.

The inconveniences caused by this ‘moving parking lot’ are endless - delayed commutes, blocked intersections and, unquestionably, road rage.

In certain cases, vehicles can’t move for emergency vehicles that need to pass through.

When Vision Zero, which also reduced the city’s speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour to increase safety, was implemented in September of 2014, residents and merchants on White Plains Road never expected the resulting traffic mess.

“The traffic in this area has resulted in a lot of chaos - and there needs to be a solution,” said local resident Raphael Schweizer, who said that there should be more investments in quicker, more accessible public transportation to relieve the congestion.

“We trusted in this initiative but it’s definitely not working in our best interest,” said Joe Bombace, a local resident who has lived in the area for over six decades. “Adjustments need to be made quickly, as we can’t keep living with this situation and sweeping it under the rug.”

Bombace added that part of the issue is linked to the entrance of Con Edison’s national cable research facility, located at 1650 White Plains Road.

At around 3 or 4 p.m., traffic dramatically increases when the facility’s workforce heads home.

A Con Edison spokesperson said that employees are encouraged to arrive to work early so they can leave early and therefore avoid the traffic congestion.

“This Vision Zero street calming plan has been anything but calming and has nearly doubled the daily commute,” said Bernadette Ferrara, president of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, who met with Community Board 11 about the issue in March. “Other future concerns for this stretch include a new school (P.S. 481) and a new Metro North station - more people means more cars!”

Vision Zero has not been a complete ‘failure’, however, as the project has resulted in new pedestrian crosswalks at various corners along the corridor.

“The pedestrian crosswalks have definitely been a positive result of the Vision Zero project - especially for seniors,” said Joe Thompson, executive director of the White Plains Road BID, who said he is also pushing for a ‘left turn only’ sign on Lydig Avenue. “However, we still have cars blocking intersections, waiting for more than one light, making u-turns - it’s absolute craziness.”

Ferrara, along with Bombace and CB11, confirmed that a Vision Zero meeting would take place at CB11’s office, 1741 Colden Avenue, on Friday, June 17 at 9:30 a.m. to review their concerns.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.
Updated 5:04 pm, July 9, 2018
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