NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — You may have noticed that some traffic patterns on the West Side of Manhattan near Lincoln Center have changed. But it seems no one got the memo, causing mass confusion among drivers.
It looks like an accident waiting to happen, cars driving into traffic down a one-way street. CBS2’s Andrea Grymes saw the same thing as car made a turn onto Columbus Avenue, also technically breaking the law.
Welcome to West 60th Street, where the city just changed the traffic direction on Wednesday, but many drivers had no idea.
“No, I don’t know at all,” one person told Grymes.
“No, we had no idea anything was happening,” another driver said.
West 60th Street, near Fordham, used to run eastbound only from Columbus to West End Avenue. Now it only runs westbound.
Clearly, most drivers CBS2 witnessed on Thursday didn’t have the first clue as many has parallel parked in both directions. Grymes saw one driver try to get into a spot going the wrong way. She told the driver, so she could back in the right way.
“No, I didn’t know,” she said, “But, I was just following the car cues.”
Many drivers said that’s the problem — not enough warning or signage.
The city Department of Transportation tweeted just Monday that changes were coming to West 60th and West 62nd Street, which suddenly became a two-way street from Columbus to Amsterdam.
After the traffic direction changed, drivers said they still had a hard time getting on to 60th Street, especially early Thursday during the morning rush. They told Grymes they couldn’t make a right onto 60th from Columbus.
“You just had to break the law, I guess,” driver Billy Gilbert said. “We had to go around and the signs here say you can’t turn right, so you kinda get screwed.”
By late Thursday morning a DOT crew had taken down the “No Right Turn” sign on Columbus, paving the way for cars to turn on to 60th.
“It’s confusing because cars are parked on both sides of the street in different directions now,” one driver said.
CBS2 saw a few traffic agents further down at other intersections affected, along with “Do Not Enter” signs and smaller new “No Right Turn” signs. The city said the changes were made to increase pedestrian safety and reduce congestion.
Many people said they are worthy goals, but have been poorly executed.
A DOT spokesperson issued the following statement:
“This street direction conversion project was undertaken to reduce vehicle/pedestrian conflicts at the W 60 Street/Columbus Avenue intersection and address the previous head-on condition associated with eastbound and westbound traffic on W. 60th St. Previously, vehicles traveling on W. 60th St eastbound and westbound were both forced to turn onto southbound Columbus Avenue. These conflicting eastbound right-turn and westbound left-turn movements created a safety concern for pedestrians crossing the south crosswalk since vehicles turned through the crosswalk from two directions. The local Community Board had also asked DOT to examine changes to the existing street network in the area to provide more access options to the West Side since, prior to the reversal of W. 60 St, all streets from W. 60 St to W. 65th St were eastbound.
“The newly implemented reversal of W. 60 St to westbound from Columbus Avenue to West End Avenue eliminates one of these two conflicting traffic flows and allows for safer crossings for pedestrians across the south crosswalk. As part of the directional conversion, DOT also added lane markings, turn and through movement markings, as well as parking stripes on both sides of the street from Broadway to Amsterdam Avenue to more clearly define the streetscape for all users.
“Prior to the implementation, local stakeholders as well as Community Board 7, NYPD and FDNY were notified of the changes via a “What’s Happening Here?” flyer, which identified the forthcoming changes.
“NYPD Traffic Agents have been posted at Amsterdam Ave and West End Ave for three days to ensure vehicles do not turn down W. 60th St in the wrong direction, as well as to ensure pedestrians are aware of the changes and able to cross safely due to the new direction of traffic flow.
“DOT installed all regulatory signs associated with the street conversions, including signs with the wording “NEW” to alert motorists of the changes. Those signs will remain for 90 days. All other signs, including one-way signs and “No Left Turn” and “No Right Turn” signs, will remain beyond the 90 days.
“Under the final configuration, vehicles will be able to make a right-turn from southbound Columbus Ave onto westbound W. 60 St. These turns were only temporarily banned as part of the installation process for the pavement markings on the morning of the implementation.”