City transit officials are installing four crosswalks across Columbia Street in Red Hook that they said will help pedestrians safely navigate a 1,100-foot stretch of the road that currently bears no such markings.
Department of Transportation reps proposed the crosswalks — two of which will go in at the intersection of Nelson and Columbia streets, with the other two going across Columbia Street at the juncture where Commerce and Luquer streets meet — along with other planned fixes they hope will make the five block stretch of Columbia Street between W. Ninth Street and Hamilton Avenue, which abuts the campus of Red Hook’s PS 676, friendlier to locals commuting on two feet.
Workers will also install yellow pedestrian-warning signs and curb-side ramps for the disabled at each of the crosswalks, which will require getting rid of one Columbia Street parking space near Nelson Street, and two more near the juncture of Columbia, Commerce, and Luquer streets.
Other changes coming as part of the job include using a combination of plastic bollards, concrete planters, and paint to create a so-called pedestrian-safety zone near the already in-place pedestrian island at the intersection of Columbia, Delavan, and Nelson streets, which will connect an existing Delavan Street crosswalk with one of the new ones going in at Columbia and Nelson streets, allowing residents to better traverse the three-lane juncture.
No less than 26 non-fatal crashes took place on Columbia Street between W. Ninth Street and Hamilton Avenue between 2012 and 2016, according to city records, which show the collisions injured some 22 motorists, but just four pedestrians.
That swath of Columbia Street does not currently receive enough foot traffic to warrant more substantial infrastructure enhancements such as traffic lights, according to the Transportation Department.
But agency rep Leroy Branch noted that the new crosswalks and safety zone will likely invite more folks to stroll the road, and said transit bigwigs hope to bring further fixes to the street as part of a larger capital project in the neighborhood in 2021.
Agency rep Elena Lunyova could not provide a budget for the crosswalk project while announcing it to members of Community Board 6’s Transportation Committee on Nov. 15, but assured the civic gurus that costs will be cheap because the job more or less consists of strategically painted lines, and will be done by department workers.
Lunyova, who added that doing the work in-house will allow the Transportation Department to forgo the city’s year-long contractor-procurement process, also did not provide a timeline for completing the project, but the meeting’s attendees urged the work be done as soon as the weather will allow, according to CB6 Transportation Committee Chairman Eric McClure, who said they pushed for the job to be finished as early as next spring.
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