Volume 23, Number 12 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 28 - August 3, 2010
Dangerous West St. intersections get pedestrian managers
BY John Bayles
Beginning as early as next week, pedestrians will have help crossing dangerous intersections at West Street. The Battery Park City Authority announced last week they have awarded a contract, made possible by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, to Sam Schwartz Engineering.
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver convened a task force last year to address the problem. The L.M.D.C. subsequently contributed $1.2 million to hire crossing guards to be stationed at Warren, Albany and Murray Streets during rush hour.
“Hiring these [pedestrian] managers has been a priority for members of the community, including the parents of children who will begin school this fall at nearby P.S. 276. I am extremely pleased that we have been able to deliver on our promise of improving safety on West Street,” said Silver.
“With heavy traffic on West Street, combined with the trucks that are constantly coming and going from nearby construction sites, adding this level of protection for pedestrians is essential,” Silver added.
The B.P.C.A. is in charge of executing the contract, which is set for two years. Schwartz’s “pedestrian managers” all have a minimum of ten years experience and a good record of behavior, which “is very important.”
“They’re all former law enforcement officials with a vast majority being NYPD retirees. While some people may say they are simply crossing guards, they are dealing with adults, not children, and you’re dealing with some adults who may be running late to work,” said Schwartz.
He said he has learned “quite a bit” from employing his managers at a Church Street intersection over the past year and a half.
“Most people are polite but every single day someone curses at our people or push them back and try to dart out,” he said. “Our people have to be professional and calm in those situations.”
Schwartz said at the Church and Vesey Street intersections, his pedestrian managers employ a chain and people often try and lift up the chain and cross the streets. He does not anticipate using a chain for the West Street intersections.
“We don’t have the volume we have on Vesey and Church,” said Schwartz.
The pedestrian managers will however be working with children when the school year begins.
“Once the school opens, they will assist and work at intersections where there will be school crossing guards,” said Schwartz. “We meet with the Police Department and make sure everyone is working in concert with each other and since our people are mostly former NYPD, it’s been a smooth interface.”