Recently implemented traffic calming measures on White Plains Road have created new levels of frustration with traffic flow along the commercial strip through two community boards.
Both Community Board 9 and Community Board 11 voted to support the Department of Transportation’s plan to increase safety by slowing traffic on the commercial strip—but now they’re finding traffic has slowed to a standstill.
The traffic measures affected two stretches of the road, from Birchall Avenue to the Cross Bronx Expressway, and from Bruckner Expressway south to Soundview Avenue. In these areas, the four-lane street was converted into a three-lane roadway. In each direction, motorists now have only one driving lane, with a wide parking lane and a left turn lane.
The reduction in driving lanes is causing severe back ups on the road in the Van Nest neighborhood, said Shradhanand Pirtam, president of the neighborhood alliance and board member of CB 11.
In the morning, southbound traffic on the road backs up all the way to Morris Park Avenue, said Pirtam, while trying to get from the Cross Bronx to the northbound road has become an ordeal in the evening.
Pirtam said he’s been on the receiving end of many complaints from his neighbors, including parents trying to get their kids to St. Raymond’s schools on Castle Hill Avenue.
“Every day the kids are late,” he said.
And although Community Board 11 voted unanimously to approve the measures, they didn’t understand the effect that it would have on the Van Nest community.
Board members plan to discuss the issue at the January 5 transportation committee meeting at the board office.
“I really hope they can do something,” said Pirtam. “It’s so bad.”
Community Board 9 has also been heavily effected by the changes to White Plains Road, said district manager Francisco Gonzalez.
The addition of parking on parts of the commercial street, which were previously a no-standing zone, has caused major gridlock on the road, said Gonzalez. The problem is particularly bad between Bruckner Boulevard and Lafayette Avenue.
“It’s backing up traffic a considerable amount,” he said.
The congestion is affecting residents and businesses in their daily activities, said Gonzalez, and he’s starting to become concerned about the ability of emergency response vehicles to get where they need to go.
“We have all kinds of vehicles coming through the neighborhood on White Plains Road,” said Gonzalez, “It happens to be a major thoroughfare in our community board.”
The board has reached out to the DOT and the MTA, and hopes to discuss the issue with them in January.
“Hopefully we’ll get some remediation,” said Gonzalez.
A spokesman from the DOT they are in discussions with board 9 about the parking, which was added at the board’s request, but that the agency will gather further observation data before removing these parking regulations as it takes up to two months for drivers to adapt to new configurations.
In regards to the back-up in CB 11, the spokesman said the volume of traffic heading south on White Plains Road toward the Cross Bronx has been noted and DOT is conducting observations in the area.
The information will be used to inform changes to signal timing or other modifications that would optimize traffic flow.