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With Eye On Pedestrian Safety, City Redesigning Stretch Of West End Avenue

An artist rendering of the changes being made on West End Avenue (credit: NYC Department of Transportation)

An artist rendering of the changes being made on West End Avenue (credit: NYC Department of Transportation)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After two pedestrians were struck and killed by cars and a community has demanded change, a nearly 2-mile stretch of West End Avenue is getting a major makeover.

As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported, a complete redesign of West End from West 72nd to West 106th streets has been fast-tracked by city transportation officials.

“There will be one dedicated lane for through travel in each direction, center lane for left turns and then the parking lanes will be widened so that double-parking doesn’t interrupt the flow of moving traffic,” said Josh Benson, director of bicycle and pedestrian programs for the city’s Department of Transportation.

Yes, double-parking will be legal, but there are those who say the redesign simply recognizes the reality of what often happens on the busy thoroughfare right now: Trucks double-park at will, giving drivers just one lane to squeeze by.

But officials say the new plan will be safer and slow drivers down.

“The temptation to be weaving back and forth is really going to be minimized,” Benson said.

A pair of deadly pedestrian accidents this year — one on West 95th Street, one at West 97th Street — spurred the changes, which are supported by the community board.

“Drivers are afraid that narrowing West End to one moving lane in each direction, not including the turning lanes, will mean a much slower trip,” said Andrew Albert, co-chairman of Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee. “But it will probably be a much safer trip. You won’t be able to speed around people. You won’t have to dodge the now endlessly parked commercial vehicles.”

Community reaction to the changes is as varied as the people who live, work and commute in the area.

“Horrible idea,” said Rodney Clara, of the Upper West Side. “It’s going to create traffic congestion, gridlock. People are going to be running across the street. Yeah, not a good idea.”

“That’s a good idea,” said Upper West Side resident Hoel Kassan. “I live here. So that would actually be a good idea potentially.”

“Double-parking, I know it’s necessary in the city, but it opens up for a lot of accidents and a lot of problems,” said Vivienne Roumani, of the Upper West Side.

“That’s a problem because it’s backed up already with two lanes,” argued Joe Ferrara.

The lane changes are expected to go into effect starting next month and proceed block by block as the city repaves the street on the Upper West Side.

The plan will also ban left-hand turns at 95th and 97th streets.

The community board is holding a public hearing on the changes Tuesday night.

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