Pace students find traffic problems on William St.

Downtown  Express photo by Annum Khan Liberty and William Sts. is one of several intersections with faded crosswalk signs.

Downtown Express photo by Annum Khan
Liberty and William Sts. is one of several intersections with faded crosswalk signs.

BY ANNUM KHAN  |  A visit to William St. during the afternoon will confirm the need for more traffic law enforcement.  A truck stops in the middle of an eroding crosswalk at the corner of Exchange Place while pedestrians try to dodge it.  Walking up William St., the busy plaza at Liberty St. and Maiden Lane has no stoplight as cars and trucks try to get by while the lunch hour rush of people jaywalk all over.

“As far as safety goes, we need more traffic people in the streets,” a 53-year-old traffic officer on William St. said.  He said the N.Y.P.D. was currently hiring more traffic patrol and they are needed during rush hour.

Twenty-four Pace University students conducted a traffic safety survey in their spring urban planning class and presented it this month to Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee.  The survey showed numerous traffic violations, eroding crosswalk and vehicle stop lines and dilapidated or confusing street signs along William St. and Nassau St. in the Financial District.

Michael Levine, the students’ professor and Community Board 1’s planning consultant and an urban planning professor, presented the survey at the meeting.  It was initiated at the request of concerned board members who have witnessed frequent accidents in the seven intersections the survey studied — along William St. where it crosses at Beaver St., Liberty St., John St. and Maiden Lane and along Nassau St. where it crosses at Maiden Lane, Beekman St. and Spruce St.

After tracking traffic at morning rush hour, noon and evening rush hour, the survey recommended traffic guards on Nassau St. and Beekman St. where vehicles frequently stopped in the middle of crosswalks, rolled past stop signs and were aggressive with pedestrians.

“I hate it,” S. McCorkle, 32, of the South Bronx, said on a recent visit. McCorkle works as a correctional officer near the William St. and Maiden Lane intersection.  “Right now there’s just a stop sign here,” she said of the intersection.  She would like to see a stoplight or a traffic controller.

The survey found 75 rolling stops at Beaver and William St. where the survey recommended South William St. become a no-car street or allow only left turns onto Beaver St. At Liberty and William Sts., where many cars roll or sped past stop signs, trucks double-park and pedestrians jaywalk, the survey recommended a stoplight, traffic officer or street camera. The survey recommended repainting severely faded crosswalks all along Nassau and William Sts., and the addition of a stop sign at John and William St. 

Disobeying traffic signs is the top traffic violation for the year so far in the First Precinct, which includes the area surveyed, according to summonses data from N.Y.P.D. traffic reports.  In the survey, over 200 traffic violations were rolling stops or not stopping at stop signs.

Recommendations were made for more visible street signs because they were blocked or tarnished by construction work scaffolding on John St. and Maiden Lane intersections at William St.  The city Dept. of Buildings confirmed they would be inspecting the street signs on William and John Sts.

At Liberty and William Sts., trucks were double parked or parked on sidewalks to bypass other trucks, limiting an already crowded street to other vehicles and pedestrians. 

The traffic officer on William St. said this limited space was especially problematic for ambulances trying to get through.

Fines for double parking are something delivery trucks must already deal with due to lack of space for commercial vehicles.

Commercial truck driver, Jeff Martin, 45, of Brooklyn, is constantly asked by traffic officers to move his truck when trying to make a delivery or receives parking tickets. “It’s harder on the truck drivers,” Martin said, who are trying to make a living.

According to Martin, he had problems at Liberty and William Sts., but also on Water St. and Broad St. where city bike racks, taxis and police vehicles frequently take up space that could be used for loading and unloading.

C.B. 1’s committee passed a resolution July 2 to reach out and work with city agencies to make the surveyed area safer for vehicles and pedestrians alike.  A Dept. of Transportation spokesperson said in an email that D.O.T. would work with the board one on the traffic safety issues.

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