One focus of this evening’s session will be the ongoing plans to reconfigure South End Avenue and West Thames Street, in the community’s southern section. This was the subject of an extended discussion at Tuesday’s meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), at which chair Tammy Meltzer and Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) vice president Gwen Dawson led an updated presentation about these plans.
A rendering of the BPCA’s plan for changes to the South End Avenue streetscape’ with widened sidewalks shown in red, new medians in green,and, speed tables, in brown.
Among ideas currently under consideration is the installation on South End Avenue at Rector Place of a “speed table” — a raised section of roadway that is also visually distinct from the surrounding pavement. The combination of a vehicle rising up several inches in an area where the driver perceives the texture and color of the pavement to have changed is designed to inspire caution and thus slow traffic.
BPCA vice president Gwen Dawson: “There is a tension between maximizing safety and making accommodations for vehicles like trucks.”
The BPCA is also weighing the creation of several planted medians along South End Avenue, designed to narrow the street, and thus slow traffic. Also slated to be narrowed is West Thames Street. These changes, in conjunction with the creation of new loading zones for trucks at various residential buildings, are intended to make the streets safer for pedestrians, although some community leaders fear this benefit will come at the cost of worsening traffic congestion. As Ms. Dawson acknowledged at Tuesday’s meeting, “there is a tension between maximizing safety and making accommodations for vehicles like trucks.”
Ms. Meltzer pointed out that, “this plan is still very much a work in progress,” and praised the BPCA’s planners for revising and updating their vision for South End Avenue repeatedly, in response to community concerns.
This dynamic comes against the backdrop of a newly increased willingness by the Authority to collaborate with community leaders on major decisions, such as the redesign of South End Avenue. But for that participation to be meaningful, it will be necessary for residents, as well as members of CB1, to continue to engage with the BPCA on such issues. For that reason, people who feel they have a stake in pedestrian safety, or traffic congestion, or the overall aesthetic quality of Battery Park City’s de facto Main Street, may wish to attend tonight’s meeting.