CITY DRAGGING ITS FEET FIXING THE “BOWTIE OF DEATH” INTERSECTION

Borough President Scott Stringer and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal stood in the center of one of the most dangerous intersections in the city surrounded by Upper West Siders today and called for the Department of Transportation to get its act together and fix the intersection. In the past two years, 34 crashes have occurred around 71st Street where Broadway and Amsterdam intersect. The lights are short, the signals are confusing, and cars careen up Amsterdam and down Broadway like Jeff Gordon on a run to Fairway (it’s got a bowtie traffic pattern, thus the “bowtie of death” nickname).

Locals have been calling for changes for years, and Stringer and Rosenthal stood on the same corner a year ago pledging to hold the DOT to its word that it would make the intersection safer. The deadline to make it happen was March — as in four months ago.

Since then just about nothing has happened.

The DOT put in traffic countdown clocks on the walk signs, like it has on lots of streets in the city, but it hasn’t extended pedestrian walkways, added a turning lane, or implemented any of the other expected changes. Rosenthal and Stringer say they’ve heard improvements might begin this fall, but the DOT still hasn’t responded to a letter they sent two weeks ago asking for an update (not uncommon with the DOT).

“Quite frankly, we can’t get a straight answer,” Stringer said, repeating over and over that we have lots of “frail elderly” in the neighborhood (hey, there are some sexy, robust elderly here too Scott).

Having attended enough ponderous meetings in this neighborhood, I think I’m qualified to say this: The DOT has been very fast to install flashy projects. The bike lanes on Columbus Avenue went up almost overnight, so fast that no one apparently had talked much to local businesses beforehand to get them prepared. That necessitated months of hand-holding by local officials to smooth things over. And no penny has been spared to spruce up tourist-friendly pedestrian plazas up and down Broadway. But the little good-government projects that don’t involve a ribbon-cutting or look as good in a 30-second infomercial (miles and miles of new bike paths!) go nowhere fast.

Nobody gives a damn about the frail elderly, lemme tell you.

Photos by Avi.

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