Way back in 2005, the city began a hefty construction project to fix up the entire Houston Street corridor, starting with the area between West Street and the Bowery. At the time we were (rightly) incredulous that the city would get the project done in time for its January 2008 completion. Better late than never though: Today, most of the job is finally wrapped up (not including the madness that is the corner of Houston and Lafayette, which is a completely different project). But a late finish to the first phase hasn't stopped the city from moving forward. In fact, to little fanfare this summer, it started phase two, from the Bowery to the FDR, with a planned completion date in 2013.
Mostly, the changes will be similar to the work done on West Houston (medians with plantings, bike lanes, new utilities under the road, new traffic signals, etc.) but EV Grieve points out today that the construction will also shake up that most famous of intersections, First Street and First Avenue, the "Nexus of the Universe" if you ask Kramer.
Specifically, the intersection of First Street, Houston and Avenue A is being rejiggered such vehicles can't go directly onto First Street off Houston; instead they'll turn mid-block (see the plan here). Which, though it means even fewer parking spaces in the neighborhood, should also make crossing First Street on the East side of First Avenue just a touch less terrifying because cars peal off of Houston onto First Street way faster than they should.