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Thread: Park Avenue Traffic Lights

  1. #1
    Forum Veteran Tectonic's Avatar
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    May 2007
    New York City

    Default Park Avenue Traffic Lights

    I notice the Traffic Lights are different on Park Avenue, especially in the 40s and 50s. Also there are no walk/dont walk signs, why is that? Can someone tell me?

  2. #2
    10 Barclay = Decepticon Optimus Prime's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    Isle of Manna-hata


    I would guess the lamp-post style traffic lights have something to do with not ruining the vistas of the Park Avenue malls with overhead wires.

    As for the lack of walk signs, I have no idea, but it is really annoying.

  3. #3


    ^ Not really.

    The times had an article on this a while back. Park ave north of GST up till 59th-ish is essentially the roof over a rail yard. There are structural issues with attaching utility poles to this. There are some place they can, but not everywhere. This is the main reason for the lack of traffic/pedestrian lights. They are "working to fix this".

  4. #4
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Precisely ^

    For Jaywalkers Who Dare,
    A Scary Stretch of Park Avenue

    December 17, 2000

    The science, sport, hobby, craft -- dare it be called art? -- of jaywalking in New York is on display in force on one anarchic stretch of Park Avenue, where pedestrians have no choice but to cross against the lights, because there aren't any.

    From 46th Street to 56th Street, there are no pedestrian traffic signals. At each intersection from 47th to 56th Street, there is only one vehicle traffic signal, in the middle of the median. At most Manhattan intersections there are four, according to the Department of Transportation.

    The reason is that this stretch of the avenue ''is sitting right on the roof of Metro-North,'' said Joseph G. Albano, the department's Manhattan borough commissioner. The roof of the tunnel to Grand Central Terminal is in some spots just eight inches below the avenue, he said, so there is no room to install poles and wiring.

    Efforts have been made before to bring lights to this part of Park Avenue. They have failed because of friction between the Transportation Department and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and because of high construction costs.

    ''We could probably build an office building for what it would cost to put in those lights,'' Mr. Albano said.

    Now another effort is under way, largely because the Grand Central Partnership, a business improvement group, is interested.

    Mr. Albano said his agency would meet with Metro-North Railroad officials before Christmas to discuss installing pedestrian signals as well as additional vehicle traffic lights. The lack of vehicle signals is just as dangerous for pedestrians, because they must rely on one light to know when to cross.

    ''I've been involved in this thing for the last six months with Metro-North and Grand Central, and we hope to resolve this as soon as possible,'' he said.

    The other day, Hal Reiter, chief executive officer of an executive search firm, who was crossing 53rd Street, said the lack of lights was dangerous. ''It's common to see them,'' he said, ''and when you don't see them, it's confusing.''

    Erika Nunez, selling CD's at 55th Street, said lights might not matter to pedestrians. ''It's crazy, but they don't care if the light is red, green, whatever,'' she said. ''They just go.''

  5. #5


    I think that this is a bad excuse-if the city wanted to put lights they would.The Park ave real estate interests blocked them. I always find it VERY tricky to cross the avenue with no lights and a high concentration of cabs.

  6. #6
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    The cost to install is the main insurmountable problem.

    Perhaps someone would like to establish a kitty?

  7. #7


    No, this is already being fixed. It was funded about six months ago.

    Cost wasn't the issue; it was DOT/MTA haggling.

  8. #8


    September 22, 2007

    It’s a Deal: Help for Park Ave. Pedestrians


    It has been an oddity of the New York City streetscape for decades — for 10 blocks along Park Avenue north of Grand Central, there are no Walk/Don’t Walk signs.

    Their absence has puzzled people trying to cross the avenue. Some have blamed Park Avenue residents’ “hoity-toity” taste, and others have suggested it has something to do with the frequent limousine traffic along the avenue.

    Actually, the cause is a long-running feud between the city and Metro-North Railroad. And finally, the two agencies say, they have stopped fighting and come up with a solution.

    “It’s been a long time coming,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner.

    The deal will be submitted for approval next week to the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees Metro-North.
    For as long as anyone under a certain age can remember, vehicle traffic on Park Avenue from 46th Street to 56th Street has been controlled by a set of stoplights on a pole at each intersection. In that same strip, there are no signals for pedestrians, and the absence has contributed to a high rate of pedestrian accidents in the area, officials say.

    The reason for the unusual configuration is that the avenue was built on a deck over the tracks that carry trains to and from Grand Central Terminal. The deck varies from about 18 to 24 inches thick, which is not deep enough to provide a foundation for traffic signal poles without breaking through the ceiling of the rail tunnel. Metro-North officials opposed any solution that would affect the tunnel ceiling.

    “It was a jurisdictional issue,” said Sam Schwartz, who worked at the Transportation Department from 1982 to 1990. “We would have been puncturing the ceiling of the railroad. That’s where the battle ensued.”

    Mr. Schwartz, who now runs a consulting firm, recalled raising the issue back in 1982 with Conrail, which controlled the tracks before Metro-North was created the following year.

    “In dealing with railroads in those days it was like dealing with an alien from another planet,” Mr. Schwartz said. “The bureaucracies spoke completely different languages. The railroads thought they received some kind of right to do whatever they wanted to do when Adam left Eden, that it was somehow divinely given to them.”

    Elliot G. Sander, the executive director of the transportation authority, was already aware of the dispute when he joined the authority early this year. He had tried to tackle it from the other side during the mid-1990s when he held Ms. Sadik-Khan’s position as the transportation commissioner.

    “When I was at city D.O.T., my understanding was that it was the M.T.A. that was responsible for the impasse,” Mr. Sander said. In his new job, he said, staff members told him the city was to blame.

    Ms. Sadik-Khan said the deal called for work at all 11 intersections. Each one will get 12 Walk/Don’t Walk signs and at least 8 traffic signals. Metro-North will design a method to anchor them in the deck and tunnel ceiling.

    The cost of installing all the signals is $5.7 million. The work will take place as part of a larger renovation of the streets and sidewalks around Grand Central, intended to stop rainwater and snowmelt from leaking onto Metro-North’s tracks and into the terminal. The entire project is expected to cost $35 million, to be shared by the city and Metro-North.

    “Our primary concern is leaks,” said Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman for Metro-North. “Their primary concern is street lights. We’re working together to take care of both of them.”

    Ms. Sadik-Khan said the stretch of Park Avenue covered by the agreement has a relatively high rate of accidents, many of them involving pedestrians. Installing new traffic signals in combination with the Walk/Don’t Walk signs will make it safer, she said.

    A contractor for the traffic signal work will be hired by next September, officials said. Metro-North said that because the project had not yet been designed, it was too early to predict when all the signals would be in place.

    Over the years, New Yorkers have guessed at possible reasons for the missing signs.

    “I thought it was an aesthetic thing,” said Anthony Boccarifus, 40, a lawyer.

    “I thought it was the whole way up Park Avenue, some hoity-toity thing.”

    “I hate it,” said Graham Nelle, 33, a lawyer who recently began working in an office on Park Avenue. He said it was unsafe and frustrating because pedestrians cannot see the traffic signal in the median once they get halfway across the avenue.

    Jeffrey Davis, 32, a lawyer who works on Park Avenue and takes his lunch breaks there, said he was pleased that pedestrian lights were finally being installed.

    “I think I will look forward to the hand and the man,” Mr. Davis said. “It’s everywhere else, and this area is so trafficked and so populated that it makes sense.”

    Kate Hammer contributed reporting.

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

  9. #9
    Forum Veteran Tectonic's Avatar
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    May 2007
    New York City


    Thanks for that info guys, I was wondering if it had something to do with Park Avenue aesthetics, lol. Otherwise they could have come up with some gold plated ones.

    By the way has anyone heard of a plan to introduce LED Street lights similar to these:

    I think they go well with the new bus stops.

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