C.B. 3 approves 4 of 6 street closings along Allen/Pike mall

By Albert Amateau

The Transportation Committee of Community Board 3 last week voted a qualified approval of a Department of Transportation initiative to connect the Allen and Pike St. malls and prohibit vehicle crossing at four intersections to make pedestrians safer.

The committee gave its approval for mall extensions at Rivington, Broome, Hester and Monroe Sts. at the May 11 meeting.

The Department of Transportation also wants to extend the malls at Hester and Division Sts., but the committee decided that vehicle crossings were needed at those two intersections.

Division St. is a local truck-traffic route and the only route south of Delancey St. to get to the Manhattan Bridge without going through Chatham Square, noted David Crane, chairperson of the C.B. 3 Transportation Committee.

The initiative comes before the full Community Board 3 meeting on March 24, and D.O.T. hopes to put the plan, called “Highway to Boulevard,” to a test in August.

“It won’t be a major capital installation,” said Crane. “It will be similar to the changes at Ninth Ave. and 14th St., with planters and at-grade surface changes,” he added.

Among other changes, the plan calls for eliminating left turns from Allen St. onto Delancey St., an especially dangerous intersection where there have been 53 vehicle-pedestrian crashes causing injury during the 10-year period ending in 2007. Nevertheless, the B39 bus, which turns left from Allen onto Delancey for the Williamsburg Bridge, may be an exception to the rule, Crane said.

Another proposed change would shift the bike lane — now next to the parking lane — to a new location next to the mall. Currently, vehicle double-parking frequently makes the bike lane unusable, according to the D.O.T. presentation, which is available on the Web sites of both D.O.T. and C.B. 3.

The plan also calls for new signal installations at 11 intersections to give pedestrians more time to cross and to hold left-turning cars at a dedicated left-turn lane in the avenue, instead of in the crosswalks between the malls. At Canal St., where there have been 29 crashes causing pedestrian injury over the 10 years ending in 2007, and at Delancey St., the plan calls for pedestrian refuge islands.

If the test is a success and the at-grade mall extensions work, the city intends to ask for federal funding to double the width of the current mall and create new landscaped, useable public space.