By Lisa Kava
A 12-block stretch on West End Avenue has been without any pedestrian crosswalk markings for the past eight weeks. A repaving project on West End between 60th street and 72nd has dragged on in a semi-complete state, and calls by residents and Council Member Helen Rosenthal have not yet spurred action.
One resident tells us that the area from 69th Street to 72nd Street on West End was repaved within a few days after the top layer of the street was “milled” to get it ready for a new surface. But the area from 60th to 69th was left bumpy, dusty and unpaved for another five weeks “It was like walking through a dust storm” he said. The second area (between 60th and 69th streets) was finally repaved about three weeks ago but that “there still are no pedestrian crosswalk markings making it eight weeks of time total where there are no markings.”
“The entire situation is very alarming, there are schools with children including those in pre-k, crossing in both directions and there is no crosswalk for them. It is a busy two way street with more activity than may other Upper West Side avenues.”
He contacted 311 and received a response saying “The Department of Transportation has inspected the condition reported. The DOT processed your service request and plans to add this location into a future pavement marking work schedule. Thank you for reporting your observations and concerns.”
We walked the stretch on West End Avenue beginning at 60th street and up to 72nd street. Other than pedestrian crosswalks at 60th street, the south side of the block at 61st street and the north side of the block at 72nd street, the entire area is just an open road with no pedestrian crosswalks markings at all and many people crossing the avenue west to east and east to west where the crosswalks are supposed to be in place. Additionally, there are minimal lane markings for cars in the road.
A second neighborhood resident told West Side Rag that she has lived in the area for 20 years and that it now seems busier than ever. She also pointed out that because of the relocation of PS 452 to 61st Street, there are many parents and children walking up and down West End Avenue to get to and from school. “It is such an incredibly well-traveled and populated area in particular around the times of school arrival and dismissal.” The resident, who has young children, said that the block she finds most troublesome is the intersection on West 70th Street. “You have northbound and southbound traffic trying to make both right and left turns to get onto West 70th Street. I am a frequent driver and pedestrian and can appreciate how difficult that corner is to navigate from both perspectives. When you are a driver you have to be very aggressive in order to make that turn and the pedestrian is your last thought.” The intersection she is referring to, like the rest of the stretch of road, currently does not have any pedestrian crosswalks.
Council Member Helen Rosenthal issued the following statement to West Side Rag: “My office has been pushing the Department of Transportation to replace the crosswalks on West End Avenue for almost a month. This is a very serious public safety issue. A constituent first contacted our office on November 9th, after the DOT had just finished repaving. We responded based on DOT’s normal procedures, in which they would return to paint as soon as all the repaving of the avenue was complete. The DOT has told us that repainting the crosswalks is a priority, but has not given us an exact date. This is unacceptable and we will continue to push them on this issue.”
A DOT spokesperson told West Side Rag in a statement “As a direct response to community concerns, DOT installed temporary lane lines on West End Avenue from 57th Street to 72nd Street. DOT is prioritizing work on this project based on safety and weather conditions.” It seems that the “temporary lane lines” the spokesperson is referring to are the white lane lines for cars that are visible on certain blocks in the area. One of them can be seen in the photo below on left side of the man walking.
We asked the spokesperson to specifically address the missing pedestrian crosswalks and received the following response “DOT does not install temporary crosswalks, however we are actively working to complete this project. As mentioned in our last statement, DOT is prioritizing work on this project based on safety and weather conditions.”
Photos by Lisa Kava.