Broome Street to Receive Traffic Treats

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In the wake of a January rally, DOT readies relief for Soho pedestrians along Broome St.

As part of their effort to improve pedestrian safety, the DOT has responded to the urgings of Soho residents, community advocates, and government officials and will add "Don't Block the Box" markings and signage for Broome Street to its 2012 contracts.

The "Don't Block the Box" campaign, which will encompass Broome Street along the intersections of Mercer, Greene, Wooster, and West Broadway, is a combination of signs and conspicuous "zebra-stripe" pavement designs inside pedestrian crosswalk "boxes." The area has long be cited as a dangerous thoroughfare during peak traffic hours, due to its access to the Holland Tunnel, and cars are lined up along the street often blocking pedestrian crossings.

(Photo courtesy of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office.)

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was among the politicians who, along with the SoHo Alliance and other community advocates, were intricate in drawing the attention and action of the DOT. At a Jan. 23 rally, President Stringer proposed a three-point plan aimed at simultaneously raising public awareness, and encouraging action from DOT. "When traffic congestion occurs and cars 'block the box,' they basically slow down an entire community," Stringer said.

Additionally, the DOT has confirmed that street crews will begin fixing the broken crosswalks at the intersections of Broome and Green Streets, as well as Broome and Mercer Streets this spring.

While the "Don't Block the Box" contracts won't commence immediately (it usually takes about a year to fulfill a contract after it has been added), and the DOT cautioned that not every broken cross-walk may be repaired during this cycle, SoHo Alliance members see these steps as welcome early signs of progress after "nearly two decades of neglect."

"This neighborhood, which is so vibrant and so exciting, is also being victimized by a traffic situation that is now out of control," Stringer said. And it seems that the DOT was listening. Although Stringer's final suggestion (traffic cameras) is still pending approval in Albany, residents of Soho now have reason to feel cautiously optimistic. The coming improvements should afford a clearer path for pedestrians as they venture across Broome Street.

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