Seen & Heard: Target’s Sewage Situation

••• “The new Target smells like sewage so bad today,” reported C. yesterday. “I asked a cashier and she said this is the third time it’s happened and that their break room and parts of the store literally flooded with raw sewage this morning. She was wondering why they haven’t closed the store.”

••• Claudine Williams, whose photography has graced the Spotlight posts about long-time Tribeca businesses, is partnering with Cos Bar at Brookfield Place: From noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 18, “Allow Cos Bar’s expert artists to apply a professional makeup application, and give you tips & tricks to step out ready everyday. After makeup, Claudine Williams will demonstrate posing in front of the camera and snap the perfect portrait. Participants will receive one retouched digital image and a 4-x-6 professional print delivered at a later date.” RSVP by calling 212-233-6249 or emailing (I think you have to buy some makeup to get the application and photos.) One of her recent portraits:

by-claudine-williams-copy••• From a new resident of 456 Washington:

On weekdays from approximately 4-7 p.m., the police put up barricades on Washington at Watts to prevent cars from coming off the West Side Highway and making a left onto Washington in an attempt to beat the traffic at the Canal/West Street light. Usually a police car also sits there until around 4:30 and then leaves. This is when the problem occurs.

Many drivers (I witness at least three or four per day myself) drive directly onto the sidewalk on the west side of Washington to get around the barricade. I’m not talking about just putting two wheels up on the curb, I mean the entire car driving down the sidewalk. Aside from the obvious reasons why this is dangerous, these drivers are unable to see when people (often children) are coming out of the entrance to 456 because a pillar blocks their view.

This past Friday I was almost hit by a large Mercedes SUV that also came within about two feet of a woman with a stroller that had no idea a car was coming down the sidewalk behind her. I chased him down the block to get a photo of his license plate. He saw me, ran the red light at Washington/Canal and then got stuck in traffic. Most of the drivers doing this have New Jersey plates, but this SUV had New York taxi plates. I flagged down the traffic cops on Canal but they said they can’t issue tickets. I have called 311 several times to complain but nothing seems to change.

I suggested he contact the 1st Precinct, Community Board 1, and the Department of Transportation’s Manhattan office. I also thought he might insist that 456 Washington get traffic cones to put on the sidewalk during peak hours.

The building already puts up cones on the sidewalk. We have an amazing doorman who is very aggressive (in a good way) about ensuring the barricades remain in place and he has taken it upon himself to put cones out. But where the cones have to be placed is also exactly where people with strollers/carts need to roll up on the sidewalk from the street, so sometimes they get moved by residents just so they can get onto the sidewalk. On top of this, most of the cars coming off West Street onto Watts completely ignore the stop sign and blow through it at full speed trying to merge back onto Canal and cut into the Holland Tunnel line. If there was a traffic camera there the city would make a fortune.

I do think having photos—to show the NYPD, DOT, and/or CB1—is important, so I went up last night at 6 p.m., but there were no barricades (possibly because it was a quiet Monday). Anyone have any other advice?

••• It’s finally hachiya persimmon season! Hachiyas are the big, acorn-shaped ones that you should only eat when extremely soft; fuyu persimmons are the tomato-shaped ones that you can eat hard or soft. I bought a bunch at the fruit vendors on Mulberry, just south of Canal, but if anyone sees them closer to Tribeca, please let me know.

hachiya-persimmon••• Pearl River Mart signage. The new branding is nice.




  1. As a long time resident of Washington Street, this situation is very real. Many cars also notice the traffic at Canal and speed backwards down the one way street – its terribly dangerous and the traffic cops are essentially worthless. My children and I have often dodged cars ignoring the traffic stop. Vehicles also speed up to make the light at Canal and Washington before it turns red. Sending more traffic cops will do nothing as they often just sit on my stoop and smoke and talk on the phone, or sleep in their cars. For the tipster – did calling the Precinct help? – I’ve called 311 too many times to count.

    • Sadly calling 311 has proven to be nothing but a waste of time. I will try going into the precinct in person to see if that yields better results. But as Erik suggested, I will try to get some photos or video first.

    • Hi,

      In the past the police would put a squad car across this intersection of Washington and Watts.
      This was pretty effective as not only did it stop traffic but it also provided some flexibility in letting people who had a legitimate need to be on that block through to park etc.

      Now this has been replaced with pretty useless barricades.

      Based on the criticism above it is quite apparent that there is no substitute for boots on the ground

      • They sporadically put a squad car there. But the car usually leaves before 5:30 which is when the situation gets worse. Regardless, the car only blocks people from making a left onto Washington. People still blow the stop sign when the car is there. The cops in the car are always on their phones texting/surfing and don’t seem to care about the stop sign.

  2. I was at Target yesterday, and I smelled it near the restrooms. I thought it was just due to some bad Chipotle.

  3. This website- provides other ways to contact 311 including several in writing.

  4. Thank you for posting this. I am hoping the situation will start getting attention. Similar dangerous driving is happening all around the Holland Tunnel entrance. I have called 311, attended 1st precinct and Vision Zero meetings and written to the DOT. No one seems interested. This issue needs to be elevated but I am unsure how to organize and get it addressed. This issue is on the agenda for the December 14 CB1 meeting. The drivers heading to NJ are reckless. There are easy solutions to an act for one of the busiest traffic areas in the world If anyone would take an interest. Please attend the December 14 meeting !

  5. i don’t mean to belittle the danger of the washington street situation but i do have to take issue with what the police are doing. why are they blocking a perfectly legal shortcut? there is even a traffic light at the corner of washington and canal to let the traffic into the holland tunnel line.

    if they want to make the situation “fairer,” they should start by enforcing the no merging from the right hand no turn lane on canal.

    • I’m sort of on the same boat here. I agree that idiots speeding through the street, driving backwards, or running signs/lights is an issue but why is the street blocked in the first place?

      And the poster at top that said having a real cop there was ideal because they could allow people that had a legitimate reason to be on the street to get through? I honestly don’t mean to come off as being a wiseass but isn’t Watts a public street? Why would someone driving on it to get from one street to another be considered not “legitimate”?

      I might not be seeing the full picture here so if I’m missing something, please feel free to fill me in.

      • They put the car/barricades there because nobody respects the traffic light at Wash/Canal. This causes a grid lock situation because the people that make the right turn at West Side Highway and canal cannot progress down canal because everybody runs the light and cuts in from Wash/Canal.

        In regards to the enforcement of not merging from the right hand lane on canal, there are multiple traffic agents there during rush hour every day enforcing this. Or at least that’s what they are supposed to be doing. You can often find one or two of them sleeping in their van on Watts.

  6. Canal Street and other streets ridiculously clogged are the result of driving being too cheap relative to other modes. All these one-off solutions, with each block or neighborhood jockeying against the other, doesn’t solve the real problem — too many cars and trucks.

    The only way out of this morass is to change the pricing — make transit cheaper than driving. This means: (1) MOVE-NY Toll Plan; and, (2) Putting market prices on the curb spots.

    • preach, brother. but no one seems to listen. all of the rest is rearranging deck chairs on the titanic. the enemy of all of us in the city is the private, one person per 3000 lbs car. that’s it. nothing else matters. less cars=a better life for all of us.

    • Absolutely right. Enforcing some of the traffic laws would help also; the red-light running throughout the city, for example, makes crossing the street a game of Frogger. Add texting-while-drunk-driving to this scenario, and you have a recipe for disaster.

      Let’s start with more dedicated bus lanes also (better still will be dedicated streetcar lanes).

      There is progress though, what with the bike lanes, increase of pedestrian space (Crime Square, etc).

    • Here’s a thought.

      The MTA claims it needs income (and thus will be raising fares to $3??). The streets are hazardous.

      Why not actually enforce the traffic laws, ticket the scofflaws, and split the income between the traffic police and the MTA?

  7. I saw hachiyas at Brooklyn Fare in (gasp) the West Village.