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The city is set to begin a 14th Street busway pilot on August 12 after a judge lifted a temporary injunction on the project, Streetsblog reported. The busway had most recently been delayed after several block associations along the street filed a lawsuit against the project, claiming that the city failed to conduct an environmental review for the work. State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower reviewed a traffic analysis submitted by Deputy Commissioner for Traffic Eric Beaton and found that the traffic, health, and safety impacts of the project fall within the city’s routine traffic management work, thereby allowing the project to move forward.
The plaintiffs, represented by Arthur Shwartz, argued that the plan was far from “routine” because of the impact the busway would have on nearby blocks—West 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th Streets—which may absorb the traffic diverted from 14th Street.
Beaton’s analysis found that those adjacent streets can expect to see 1,000 extra cars a day between them, though he noted those were “conservative” estimates. The largest potential increase in vehicle traffic would be West 13th Street, where the DOT predicts an increase of 166 vehicles per hour between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Beaton added that those numbers amount to “approximately four to five additional vehicles per signal cycle at an intersection, or about 100 feet of car queuing-which is sufficient to allow for all cars to get through each intersection during one signal phase.”
Nathan Taylor, an attorney with the city, also argued that just because the project would have a traffic impact doesn’t mean it needs to be considered for environmental review, noting that the city is only using paint and traffic enforcement cameras to implement the busway. “This is not a construction project,” Taylor said. “We are not disturbing land or structures.”
As amNY reported, busway advocates slammed the lawsuit as being classist—residents of wealthy neighborhoods fighting better bus service for the M14’s 26,637 daily weekday riders. “The city’s attorneys did an exceptional job in court today. I think it was a complete takedown of these frivolous arguments,” Marco Conner, a co-deputy director at Transportation Alternatives, told amNY in a statement. “This shows that the city has the mandate to prioritize the safety and efficient movement of New Yorkers.”
The 18-month pilot program will begin next week. During this time, 14th Street will have four lanes—two in each direction—with the center lanes dedicated to bus and truck traffic and curbside lanes reserved for loading and local pick-ups and drop-offs. Private through-traffic will be banned on the block between Third and Ninth Avenues between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day.
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