As the residential population continues to boom in Lower Manhattan, the New York State Department of Transportation (SDOT) has set its sights on improving pedestrian traffic flow at a particularly active intersection. The focus is on the busy crossroads of West Street (or "Route 9A") and Battery Place, where the roadways were originally built with Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and other vehicular traffic top of mind.
View an animation
and a slide show
of the latest renderings of this project.
Now, SDOT has rebuilt the intersection, along with the rest of West Street up to West Thames Street, as a tree-lined boulevard called "Promenade South." The $70 million project has revamped the basic configuration of West Street's wide lanes and Battery Place's car-centric layout, giving the community wider sidewalks, pedestrian plazas, a bikeway, and plenty of greenery.
The first stage of work on Promenade South, led by contractor Conti Enterprises, kicked off in December 2004, with SDOT redirecting traffic to carry out underground utility work and reconstruction of the main roadway. The following four stages of the project involved shifting the vehicular lanes of Battery Place to expand the sidewalks and make room for the new bikeway that will link the Hudson and East River greenways.
Perhaps the project's greatest undertaking is the reconstruction of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel approach and entrance. The mouth of the "north portal," which now sits almost flush with Battery Place, is being moved slightly north to accommodate the new pedestrian plazas and signal-protected crosswalks. The portal is also getting a new, decorative roof, the components of which will radiate from the tunnel entrance like sunbeams and help quiet traffic noise at street level.
SDOT also is taking the opportunity to rebuild the tunnel's roadbeds and interior walls, which required extra planning to balance high weekday traffic volumes and community concerns about night and weekend noise, vibrations, and other disruptions.
"Noise is one of the most important considerations," said Project Director Richard Schmalz, P.E. He explained that along with following the city's noise-control codes, every effort to limit the disruptions that come with large-scale construction projects has been made, such as working inside "acoustic sheds" and using muffled equipment.
As for traffic disruptions, SDOT has kept traffic moving
throughout the project, both at street level and inside
the tunnel. While work in the tubes and around the north
portal has taken place over the course of a year, the
interior work -- which required closing half of the
tunnel's traffic lanes in phases -- began in February
2005 and has continued throughout the project.
Because Promenade South is one of many construction projects taking place downtown, SDOT has reached out to the community as much as possible to share information, log concerns, and field questions. And in its efforts to minimize the impacts of the project on daily life, Schmalz's team has used ultra-low-sulfur fuel in construction vehicles, maintained vehicular and pedestrian traffic circulation, and limited heavy construction work to preset hours.
Schmalz and his team have maintained access to adjacent buildings throughout the project, made rodent-control measures a top priority, and preserved as many existing trees along West Street as possible in the final design.
Promenade South will be completed by late spring 2006 and is designed to be compatible with the northern Route 9A reconstruction project (from West Thames to Chambers Street). Work on that segment is now being planned and is expected to commence in spring 2007.
To learn more about Promenade South or to subscribe to the project newsletter, please click here. The project's community liaison is Patrick Jordan, who can be reached at (800) 714-0454. Concerns and questions can be sent to route9A@dot.state.ny.us and to the Route 9A Outreach Field Office, 17 Battery Place, Suite 906, New York, NY 10280.
Click here to see the latest information on the construction of Promenade South.