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BY KAITLYN MEADE | Traffic was flowing slowly but surprisingly surely on a recent Thursday, despite traffic barriers that closed all but one of the southbound lanes near Wall St. The bottleneck at Liberty St. slowed traffic as cars funneled into the left lane to avoid Phase 1 of the city Dept. of Design and Construction’s Broadway Reconstruction Project.
The chaos of taxis, tour buses and pedestrian traffic midday on Aug. 15 had taken over Broadway between Rector and Liberty Sts., where construction began the first week of August.
An ambulance with flashing sirens was stuck in stop-and-go traffic for those blocks as cars could not pull over to get out of its way. One aggressive driver stopped abruptly to avoid hitting a fruit vendor crossing the street.
However, pedestrians and employees of area businesses noted that the construction did not have an impact on their day-to-day activities. Several pedestrians went over to ask directions of “traffic enforcement agents” stationed at the intersections.
“It’s running smoothly, everyone is getting by,” said Takeisha Walker, at the intersection of Broadway and Pine St., who was directing traffic on one side and keeping an eye out for tractors moving back and forth on the other.
“My company keeps [drivers] motivated,” she said. Walker is an employee of MFM Contracting Corp., which has been hired to maintain traffic flow on Broadway’s remaining lane. She said that the level of activity was fairly normal for the time of day.
Coordinating vehicles with the massive pedestrian presence was not so easy, said her colleague Latoya Lewis, stationed at Wall St. Lewis, on duty that day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., pointed out all the ways that a single lane could be obstructed.
“It’s busy all day because of the train station right there. You’ve got the Stock Exchange, the [Wall St.] Bull is down here — there’s a lot of action. And yellow cabs are good for stopping, slowing traffic down. And the tour buses slow down to show people the Stock Exchange and take pictures of the [Trinity Wall Street] church,” Lewis said. “If we weren’t here, traffic would be really jammed.”
Deliveries in the area are far more difficult, according to workers trying to finish construction on the interior of the TD Ameritrade at 100 Broadway.
“It’s costing us a lot of money,” said John Patrick Maloney, of A.C.C. Construction, the job manager of the site. Maloney said the bank’s construction was due to be finished by mid-September but until then he is forced to get permits for deliveries at odd hours with less traffic.
“We got no forward notice, zero… I was here on Saturday working, and when I came back Monday, [the barriers] suddenly appeared,” he said.
This first two sections of the $42 million capital street reconstruction plan will take until July 2014 to complete, according to a presentation by the Dept. of Design and Construction.
Phase 1 of Broadway, from Rector to Ann Sts. http://bit.ly/1a6vWXD will take about two years to complete. The project is aimed at replacing the aging infrastructure such as water mains, sewers, and gas, steam and electric utilities.
The city is encouraging community members with questions or complaints to contact the construction community liaison Liz Baptiste at email@example.com or call 212-791-6540.