For years, residents and community leaders have called on the city to add pedestrian space near Rockefeller Center to make conditions safer for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the area during the holiday season to see the tree and store windows. This week, the Department of Transportation privately issued a pilot plan to address the major crowds by increasing pedestrian space on Fifth Avenue between East 48th and East 51st Streets. But Mayor Bill de Blasio quashed the plan before it was officially released, claiming “it was not signed off on by City Hall.”
department of transportation
Image via Flickr
The United Nations General Assembly already began on Sept. 17 but Midtown has yet to experience the traffic nightmare that will hit the neighborhood next week. With meetings taking place through Sept. 30, the city has designated weekdays between Sept. 23 and Sept. 30 as gridlock alert days. On top of UNGA, Climate Week events will add to the congestion. “Drivers should leave their cars at home next week if they can—and try walking, taking mass transit, or getting on a bicycle,” Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the Department of Transportation, said in a statement. Here’s a handy guide to getting around the city during the busy week ahead, including street closures and traffic updates for those of you with nerves of steel.
Photo courtesy of the DOT via Flickr
Now in its 12th year, Summer Streets returns this Saturday for its third and final hurrah, where New Yorkers can experience over seven miles of car-free streets. Park Avenue will be closed from Chambers Street all the way to 72nd, and the path will be open to cyclists and pedestrians alike. Five “rest stops” will be set up along the route, each with different activities, performances, and free snacks.
Via Public Domain
Earlier this week, a group of Upper West Side residents from the Century Condominium filed a suit against the city for its plans to install a protected bike lane on Central Park West, attempting to cease its construction immediately. As 6sqft previously reported, the bike lane plan consists of installing a northbound protected lane from 59th Street to 110th Street–eliminating 400 parking spots in the process (another point of contention for the plaintiffs). But yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Lynn Kotler ruled against their request for a “temporary restraining order” and expressed skepticism over their claims that the bike lane would bring “immediate and irreparable harm to the neighborhood,” as Streetsblog reported. Work crews will continue putting in the bike lane—which doesn’t actually involve any construction, just painting street markings—until city lawyers and plaintiffs reconvene in court on August 20.
All photos courtesy of the Garment District Alliance
One of the city’s busiest neighborhoods is getting a little slice of peace. The Garment District Alliance and the city’s Department of Transportation unveiled a new street art installation Wednesday afternoon. The nearly 180-foot painting by artist Carla Torres, “Nymph Pond,” takes up the stretch of Broadway between 37th and 38th Streets. The best part? The block with the mural is being temporarily set aside as an “urban garden” until the end of the summer.
Via Public Domain
A community board on Tuesday approved a plan to build a new protected bike lane along Central Park West, about one year after a cyclist was killed by a truck there. As West Side Rag reported, Manhattan’s Community Board 7 voted in favor of the city’s plan, which consists of a northbound protected lane from 59th to 110th Street. Ahead of the bike lane’s construction, 400 parking spaces will be eliminated on Central Park West.
Image of the New Roots Community Farm in the Bronx by Kathleen McTigue, courtesy of International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Building on the success of the New Roots Community Farm in the Bronx, two additional New Roots Gardens are currently underway in Queens, the Sunnyside Post reports. The gardens are being planted on both sides of 69th Street near Woodside Avenue and will include vegetable beds, flowers, a greenhouse, and seating areas. As part of a Department of Transportation initiative with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and NYC Parks GreenThumb, the gardens aim to create a community space for immigrants and refugees, as well as access to fresh and affordable produce.
Rendering courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group
The latest proposal to fix the crumbling BQE comes from Bjarke Ingels Group, who unveiled their plan to a crowd of 1,000 at a town hall meeting hosted by the Brooklyn Heights Association and advocacy group A Better Way last night. Dubbed the BQP—with the P standing for Park—the firm wants to build a new, six-lane highway that would be topped by a public park, saving the promenade and expanding Brooklyn Bridge Park by more than 10 acres. The proposal comes on the heels of Mayor de Blasio hitting the brakes on a $3 billion DOT plan and instead convening a “panel of experts” to determine the best path forward.
Image: Wikimedia cc.
A report released today by civic think tank Regional Plan Organization highlights options for the impending Brooklyn-Queens Expressway reconstruction that would appear to upend conventional highway reconstruction policy. The new report suggests that the DOT could actually reduce the number of lanes needed when redesigning the expressway’s 1.5-mile “Triple Cantilever” under the historic Brooklyn Heights Promenade, in addition to looking at congestion pricing, HOV restrictions and two-way tolling for the Verrazano Bridge. The demand management policies outlined contain both immediate benefits–like eliminating the need to block access to the historic Brooklyn Heights Promenade–and long-term rewards like reducing pollution.
Adding another perspective to the many voices who are seeking a solution to the “most challenging project not only in New York City but arguably in the United States,” City Comptroller Scott Stringer has outlined his own proposal to save the crumbling BQE, advocating for a middle-ground solution to the heated debate. Stringer’s idea (notably without a timeline or proposed budget) is to turn the BQE into a truck-only highway and build a linear park above. “We remain hopeful that the agency can view the BQE’s deterioration not just as an engineering challenge, but as an opportunity to create something new and bold that both accommodates essential traffic and enhances surrounding neighborhoods,” he wrote in a March 7 letter to Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.