Fall 2000, p.10

East Houston St. Improvements Need One Last Push

East Houston Street between Broadway and the FDR Drive has long been a dangerous mix of speeding cars and trucks, red-light running, crowded sidewalks, and wide streets. The horrid conditions caused nearly a dozen pedestrian deaths on Houston Street in the mid 90s. In 1999, Lower Manhattan Together (LMT), a coalition of downtown church groups and affiliate with the Industrial Areas Foundation, demanded that the Department of Transportation do something about the growing carnage and atrocious conditions. After intense press and thronged community meetings, DOT began a series of improvements, including adding more crossing time at intersections, leading pedestrian intervals (lpis) at key crossings, and re-marked crosswalks. DOT also marked widened medians along Houston Street and adjacent streets, and promised to fully construct them if they were 'effective.'
On the whole, the community feels that the DOT has addressed most of their pedestrian safety concerns. However, they are still waiting to hear if or when they will get fully constructed medians, and whether or not the DOT plans to make it safer to cross the FDR Drive at Houston Street, where residents currently do not have a crosswalk to get across the Drive to East River Park. This FDR Drive/Houston Street intersection is one of the most dangerous in lower Manhattan-and one that LMT flagged as a community priority-but one that DOT has been curiously reluctant to address. DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Joseph Albano stated that his office would meet with LMT and the community in the coming weeks to discuss the final improvements and what could be done at the FDR Drive.

Transportation Alternatives joins Lower Manhattan Together and the residents of the Lower East Side in calling on DOT to get out the brick and mortar and finish what they started on East Houston Street, and make walking to the East River safe. Painted medians and neckdowns and vague promises to look into improving an intersection's safety simply do not cut it. The DOT has just finished an imaginative and far-sighted redesign of Herald Square. Houston Street deserves the same treatment.

"DOT's work to slow traffic and protect pedestrians on East Houston Street is going to save some lives, if it hasn't already. LMT looks forward to working with Commissioner Weinshall to bring some order to the FDR Drive intersection and finish up the East Houston Street project."
Chet Wargocki, co-chair of LMT's Transportation Team

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