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Concourse receives countdown traffic signals

Anyone who lives or works near Grand Concourse knows that trying to cross the thoroughfare can be a terrifying experience.

If the light turns green while you’re crossing the wide boulevard, you better scramble to the other side.Grand Concourse had 411 pedestrian injuries and nine fatalities between 2005 and 2009.

To help combat that problem, Councilman Jimmy Vacca and Department of Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced on Tuesday, August 2, the installation of pedestrian countdown clocks at 49 intersections on Grand Concourse between East 140th Street and Mosholu Parkway.

Thirty-six of the intersections have already had the countdown clocks, which warns a pedestrian how many seconds they have to get across before the traffic light turns green.

“Nothing is more dangerous than when our elderly or children get stuck in the middle of an intersection and the light changes on wide streets,” said Vacca, chair of the city council transportation committee. “It’s like getting stuck on a raceway, and your only hope is running for safety. Pedestrian countdown signals give New Yorkers the information they need to make the safe choice, which often means waiting for the next light on streets like the Grand Concourse.”

The effectiveness of the countdown clocks has been supported by a multi-year DOT pilot study, completed in 2010. The agency plans to have them installed at 1,500 intersections across the city.

“Countdown signals take the guesswork out of crossing the street,” Sadik-Khan said.

Clinton Avenue resident Martha Rivas said she most definitely counted on the countdown clocks. She takes classes at Hostos Community College on East 149th Street and Grand Concourse, where a countdown clock was already installed.

“It’s like four big streets in one here,” she said, referring the two service roads and the two inner roads going in opposite directions. “With the time clock it helps, because when you see it’s going down, you know to hurry.”

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