Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Astor Place Redesign

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

A conceptual draft of “Village Plaza,” a new pedestrian public space that would replace a confusing and dangerous merging zone between E. Fourth and E. Sixth Sts.

By Gabriel Zucker\The Villager

A traffic redesign of Astor Place and Cooper Square in the works for decades seems finally ready to start moving fairly soon, with construction expected to begin as early as this winter. The city’s Art Commission is scheduled to consider a conceptual design for the project next month.

The latest version of the plan, which largely dates back to 2005, involves reclaiming large amounts of street space for pedestrian use. The renovation includes a realignment of Cooper Square from Sixth St. to Astor Place, with the street being thinned and made one-way northbound. The thinner avenue will provide new space alongside Peter Cooper Park, and will create a two-block-long plaza space almost the same size alongside the Bowery, extending down to E. Fourth St.

In addition, Astor Place will be closed to cars between Fourth Ave. and Lafayette St. where it passes “The Alamo” cube sculpture. On the opposite side of Fourth Ave., Astor Place will also be realigned with Eighth St., creating even more pedestrian space. The traffic island for the northbound No. 6 train will be doubled in size.

As part of the capital project, the city Department of Transportation will also be installing medians along Third Ave. to facilitate pedestrian crossings on the blocks between Fourth and Ninth Sts.

According to a D.O.T. document on the plan, “the proposed design will improve outdoor public spaces, expand green spaces, reduce conflicts between pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and add a traffic median along Third Ave.”

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