To The Editor:
Re “Bridge, brides, bottlenecks raise Chatham Square scare” (news article, Jan. 16 – 22):
“A simpler and more rational intersection at Chatham Square,” as you paraphrased Shin-Pei Tsay of Transportation Alternatives, should be the first consideration in any redesign of the square — a necessary but not sufficient condition for the project. However, the city is about to start the project and, as Community Board 3’s traffic engineer Brian Ketcham reports, the city has done no pedestrian or safety analysis of either the current configuration or the proposed configuration. It also has done only a “sunny day” analysis of motor vehicle traffic. It has done no analysis of the impact of the four-year project on the economic environment of Chinatown. In short, the city is jumping into this project essentially blind.
As someone who has grown up in the Chatham Square area, I am intimately familiar with its usage patterns and I believe that the proposed plan might have simpler intersections, but is not rational for the area. After all, the simplest design is no intersection at all — but the ramifications of doing that would give the city reason to pause and perhaps even think. The fact is the city is proposing taking away key crosswalks which would force school children heading to P.S. 1 to cross more and busier streets. Unless one knows and cares about the children, the seniors, the people who have to cross these “rational intersections,” one cannot make a balanced and informed decision about the proposed configuration. The traffic resulting from the redesign would not only be worse in the heavily utilized southbound Bowery-Worth St. route, but probably less able to take spikes in traffic, lane work, or other “unexpected” conditions.
Transportation Alternatives obviously has a better track record than Chinatown residents of getting the city to listen to their concerns. I encourage them to work with Chinatown residents to convince the city to abandon faulty plans in favor of ones that would work better for the local and general population. Otherwise, they are simply signing off on the moral equivalent of the Gowanus Expressway through the historic heart of Chinatown.
Member of the C.B. 3 Chatham Square Task Force and the Chatham Green board
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