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Dangerous Upper West Side Intersection Reconfigured Under ‘Vision Zero’ Initiative

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The New York City Department of Transportation on Tuesday unveiled a new northbound median-to-median crosswalk at 96th Street and Broadway as part of an effort to reduce traffic fatalities.

The project – under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative – purposely narrowed 96th Street and lengthened the crossing time for pedestrians.

The new configuration of the Upper West Side intersection also removes a southbound left turn lane and adds a north pedestrian crosswalk spanning 96th Street.

“By having that crosswalk, the thousands of people who go to and from the subway station each day, when they come out, they pretty much always have an option,” DOT Assistant Commissioner Ryan Russo, speaking from the new island, said Tuesday. “By restricting that left turn to go onto 96th Street, this island is twice as big as it used to be.”

The island flows into a new crosswalk, bridging 96th Street.

Prior to the modifications, Russo said “you’d come out of the subway, you’d be in the center mall of Broadway, and you’d have ‘don’t walks’ in all directions.”

Upper West Side resident Kristina Haywood told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang that safety has been a concern when crossing the bustling intersection.

“It doesn’t seem like the time is there long enough for us to cross properly, and just knowing which direction, the cars seem to be coming from everywhere here,” the mother of four said.

NYPD chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said the NYPD is also coordinating a crackdown.

“We expect that the motorists slow down, we want them to slow down,” he said.

Early this year, three people were killed in a nine-day span near the intersection.

“This is one of the most pedestrian-rich, residentially dense neighborhoods in the country, even the world. And with all the people walking around, especially senior citizens and children, what we’re trying to do here is give them more protected space,” said Paul Steely White with Transportation Alternatives.

The intersection has the 96th Street No. 1, 2 and 3 line subway station on an island in the middle of the street. The safety effort was launched because people rushing to catch trains sometimes fail to cross with the light.

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