Officials are proposing that 14th Street turn into a 17-hour-a-day busway during the L train shutdown, New York City Department of Transportation confirmed, restricting vehicle traffic on the roadway in order to accommodate displaced commuters.
The changes were originally reported by the New York Daily News, which cited court documents, and confirmed to Metro by DOT, which is working with the MTA on travel accommodations for L train riders.
For months, transit advocates with Riders Alliance have been calling for the city to enact a busway on 14th Street during the L train shutdown. Previously, officials said that 14th Street between Third and Ninth Avenues would be limited to just bus traffic only during rush hours.
Riders Alliance had been calling for a 24/7 busway along 14th Street to help out commuters, but still voiced support for the city’s announcement of a busway for 17 hours a day.
“Thanks to Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Transportation, L train riders and people who live near the L train can rest easier,” said Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director with the alliance, in a statement. “With shuttle buses prioritized on 14th Street and the Williamsburg Bridge between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., the MTA can provide a robust replacement for the crowded L train morning, noon, and night alike.”
Fifty thousand people currently ride the L train along 14th Street every day in Manhattan alone per MTA data, transit groups previously noted. If there were not a strong bus plan in place during the L train shutdown, advocates of the busway said, it could cause as many as 42,000 extra vehicles to clog 14th Street.
Between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. seven days a week during the shutdown, residents and visitors will be able to use 14th Street for dropoffs and pickups only. Through traffic will be discouraged.
“L riders will have transit they can rely on,” Pearlstein added. “And residents along the L can count on riders to use transit rather than cause congestion and pollution by taking cars, taxis and for-hire vehicles.”
DOT is planning to install two one-way bike lanes on 12th and 13th Street in Manhattan to accommodate more kinds of commuters, and also is proposing HOV hours on the Williamsburg Bridge from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Judy Pesin of the 14th Street Coalition, a group of residents and businesses formed in response to the L train shutdown, said that it was surprising to hear the news of the busway two days before City Council is set to hold a public hearing about the line’s closure.
Pesin said that the coalition is concerned about how this restricted traffic will affect the residents and businesses on 14th Street, as well as if it will impact traffic on side roads in the neighborhood.
“You can’t compare to Time Square, it’s not a residential neighborhood,” she said of such restricted traffic. “What experience do we have with this? How do we cope? …Frankly, we were looking forward to information at the public hearing.”