Duane St. Stop Sign is Still a No-Go
By Julie Shapiro
The city is sticking to its refusal to install a traffic signal or stop sign at Greenwich and Duane Sts. near the entrance to Washington Market Park.
For five years, the Tribeca park's board and other local residents have been demanding that the city calm the speeding cars on Greenwich St., especially at Duane St., where parents with strollers frequently cross. The city Dept. of Transportation has responded by studying the intersection several times, but each time they come back with the same result: No change is needed.
"It didn't quite meet national standards [for installing a signal or stop sign]," said Gerard Soffian, the D.O.T.'s deputy commissioner for traffic operations. "There are adequate opportunities for pedestrians to cross Greenwich St."
Soffian testified at a hearing Councilmembers Margaret Chin and James Vacca held Monday morning on pedestrian safety in Lower Manhattan. Chin, whose district includes Tribeca, asked whether D.O.T. could make an exception to the federal standards for traffic signals and install one at Greenwich and Duane Sts. based on the community's safety concerns.
Lori Ardito, first deputy commissioner of the D.O.T., replied that "there's no such thing as a waiver" to the federal guidelines, and she said that even Mayor Bloomberg does not have the power to circumvent them.
"There is certainly no exception to this rule," she said.
Soffian added that installing an unneeded light or sign "creates more problems than it solves" because drivers may miss the signal or intentionally disobey it.
Julie Menin, chairperson of Community Board 1, called the D.O.T.'s position "insane."
"It's totally unacceptable," she said. "For D.O.T. to say they cannot put up a stop sign is ridiculous."
Nelle Fortenberry, former president of the Friends of Washington Market Park, said she was frustrated to have made so little progress after collecting hundreds of petition signatures and working with Transportation Alternatives to document the intersection's dangers.
In 2008, an SUV backed into a stroller that a Tribeca nanny was pushing across Greenwich St. at Duane St. The 3-year-old girl in the stroller escaped with only a few scrapes and bruises, but advocates say it is only a matter of time before another more serious accident takes place.
Charles Komanoff, a transportation analyst who attended Monday's hearing, is especially concerned that the upcoming construction on Chambers St. could funnel more traffic onto Greenwich and Duane Sts. The D.O.T. said they would reexamine the intersection if conditions changed.
"I'm pretty stunned by their dogged refusal to consider [immediate changes]," Komanoff said afterward. "Instead of dealing with the new D.O.T. that puts pedestrians first, ahead of traffic, I really feel like we're dealing with the old D.O.T. that goes all the way back to Robert Moses."
Submitted by volunteer on May 6, 2010 - 16:57. categories [ ]