News | West Harlem

Further traffic calming measures planned for Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard

  • SLOW IT DOWN | The city Department of Transportation is looking to install more traffic calming measures on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, but residents are divided on the effectiveness of the tools.

The city’s Department of Transportation outlined plans to expand traffic-calming measures on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, one of Harlem’s most accident-prone streets, at a Community Board 10 committee meeting Wednesday.

The proposal includes widening parking lanes, building pedestrian shelters along medians, and adding additional traffic signals on Adam Clayton Powell from 135th Street down to 110th Street. The DOT also wants to renovate the six-way intersection at 116th Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue to improve pedestrian safety.

But local residents are asking for more research to be done after voicing concerns that the measures will cause even more traffic congestion along one of Central Harlem’s main business corridors.

After implementing similar measures last year further north on Adam Clayton Powell—between 135th and 155th streets—DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione said collisions have decreased by 32 percent.

At the intersection of 116th Street, Adam Clayton Powell, and Saint Nicholas, the DOT is proposing enlarging pedestrian shelters, adding left turn signals, and converting middle-of-the-road parking spots to roadside parallel parking spots.

Forgione said the DOT had planned on implementing the measures by May, but meeting attendees said more research needed to be done on the impact of the changes.

Barbara Nelson, assistant secretary of CB10, said that the reduced accident rates reported by the DOT only come from two months of data, and that the measures have caused an increase in cars while failing to improve safety.

“We slowed down the traffic, but it’s not safer,” Nelson said. “We should not have a phase two when we have a phase one that doesn’t even have complete information.”

Nelson, who said she drives regularly in the area, is also concerned that the project will reduce the number of parking spaces available and that the wider parking lanes will essentially reduce Adam Clayton Powell to having one lane per direction. She also said the large number of trucks and buses that stop in the wider parking lanes means pedestrians, especially children, would have to walk into the road just to look for oncoming traffic.

Forgione said that “the project is saving lives and making it safer, so we don’t want to wait month after month” to implement it.

CB10 member Melvin Christian said he felt safer on Adam Clayton Powell above 135th Street, where the traffic control measures have been implemented.

But other attendees also remained skeptical of the measures’ ability to improve safety.

Lupe Moreno, also a CB10 member, said that the DOT should fix the constantly malfunctioning streetlights on Adam Clayton Powell, which she finds more dangerous than traffic.

“If they have so much money,” she said, “why don’t they fix the lights?”

Moreno also said that the number of potholes in the area made driving difficult. Forgione said that “it is pothole season now,” and that the city will work to fix potholes as quickly as possible.

Despite disagreements over what to do, CB10 and the DOT still share a common goal, Nelson said.

“We’re really just making the corridor safer,” she said.

christian.zhang@columbiaspectator.com | @christizhang

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