A roughly $18 million federal grant will fund long sought-after traffic safety improvements to a dangerous stretch of Delancey Street near the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and a cadre of local pols announced Monday.
The grant will pay for the city Department of Transportation’s (DOT) implementation of a so-called “road diet” along the dangerous stretch of Delancey, the senator said during a news conference at the corner of Delancey and Norfolk Streets Monday morning. The road diet consists of reducing traffic lanes, building protected bike paths and adding accessibility improvements to the busy thoroughfare between Clinton and Bowery Streets.
Gillibrand said 38 people were either killed or severely injured along the section of Delancey Street that’s set to be redesigned between 2016 and 2020. And over the past decade, there were 200 crashes in the same area, according to Congress Member Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn, Queens), who was also in attendance.
One victim of those crashes was 12-year-old Dashane Santana, who was struck and killed by a driver while she was crossing the street in 2012.
“It’s not too long ago when a 12-year-old, Dashane Santana, was killed by a driver right here on Delancey Street,” the senator said. “She was a sixth grader. The young girl who dreamed of attending Julliard and becoming an actress. She was crossing this very street when she dropped her bookbag. And I can tell you, no sixth grader anywhere would know not to pick up that bookbag and just cross the street. This is a heartbreaking story.”
“It’s our responsibility to ensure that every New Yorker feels safe,” she continued. “Old folks, toddlers, workers and students shouldn’t have to fear for their lives or their children’s lives simply because they’re crossing the street or waiting for a bus or bicycling to work. We need to do much better.”
In addition to Velázquez, Gillibrand was joined by area officials including Congress Member Dan Goldman (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn), DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, Assembly Member Grace Lee (D-Manhattan and Manhattan City Council Members Christopher Marte (D) and Carlina Rivera (D).
Marte, who grew up on the Lower East Side, labeled the unsafe road conditions on Delancey a “crisis” and said the community has been fighting to redesign the busy road for many years.
“If you look at Delancey Street now, it’s much different than it was 10 years ago,” Marte said. “We have a senior center, we have the Market Line, we have Essex Street Market, we have new shops popping up every single day. What hasn’t met that moment? Our road. But today, this announcement is to say we’re meeting that moment, we’re putting our money where our mouth is and we’re going to make this a safer street.”
The $18 million going toward the Delancey redesign is a large chunk of the roughly $21 million granted to New York City through the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) program, Gillibrand said. The fund is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by the last Congress that aims to distribute $5 billion in federal grants over the next five years to prevent future traffic deaths across the country.
Overall, the state received $37 million from the program, she added.
Gillibrand said the other $3 million coming to the city will be used for developing a “pedestrian and micro-mobility planning toolkit,” which will seek to expand pedestrian focused street safety projects and update policies around micro-mobility vehicles like e-scooters and e-bikes.
Rodriguez said that they chose to redesign this specific portion of Delancey because it’s a hazardous stretch heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists. However, he added, that the city needs more money from the federal government so it can give other dangerous roadways around the city the attention they need.
“This is a critical stretch of Delancey for pedestrians, cycling and vehicle traffic; they connect to the bike lane network,” Rodriguez said. “So, we are focusing on the most dangerous part of this corridor, but this is a citywide commitment that we have to continue improving safety, especially for pedestrians and cyclists across the five boroughs.”