Pedestrians stream across 54th Street at University Avenue toward warm sweet bread and crisp produce. A new Latino supermarket has opened on the eastern edge of City Heights’ Colina Park neighborhood, creating a buzz among residents of an area with limited grocery options.
Among local advocates, the store’s arrival has also revived a sense of urgency to do something about a dangerous intersection that people have to cross to get there. The new store — a Northgate Gonzalez Supermarket — filled a grocery void, but it also did something else. In a community where a third of households don’t own a car, it shifted the flow of pedestrians overnight.
Since the store opened last month, I’ve noticed more City Heights residents walking east toward the retail center that before wasn’t much more than an aging K-Mart and a vast asphalt parking lot.
But to get there, they have to cross an intersection designed to make life easier for drivers, not pedestrians. The intersection at University Avenue and 54th Street is the most dangerous in the area.
On the north side of the intersection, the right-turn lanes separate from traffic and begin a sweeping curve, like a freeway on-ramp. The free turns, as they’re called, allow drivers to turn at convenient speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. No need to stop.