A plan to rejigger the roadways north of Union Square to create more pedestrian-friendly streets is moving forward despite cries from a group of residents claiming the conversion will cause a traffic nightmare in their neighborhood, according to DNAinfo.
Dozens of residents turned up at meeting of Community Board 5’s transportation committee Monday night to discuss the Department of Transportation’s pilot project, which will restrict traffic to one-way westbound on 17th Street and modify Broadway north of the square to add more pedestrian space.
The conversion also includes a handful of changes to the surrounding side streets, including rerouting eastbound traffic to the residential 18th Street as part of the larger goal of discouraging drivers from using Broadway as a major thoroughfare.
The plan had been tweaked since its April unveiling based on input from local residents — including keeping Broadway open to through traffic between 17th and 18th streets. Still, some stakeholders claim the proposal is being rushed through.
“I don’t think there’s a person in this room who doesn’t think this plan is being rammed down people’s throats,” said Mitchell Falber, a lawyer for the owners of ABC Carpet & Home on Broadway between 18th and 19th streets.
Throughout the contentious, two-hour-long meeting, residents from the area claimed the DOT didn’t do enough to consult with them and failed to publicize data public forums about the project.
A major sticking point for neighbors is the expected surge in traffic that will end up on East 18th Street instead of Union Square. Southbound drivers will be forced to turn left on East 18th Street from Broadway.
The DOT acknowledged that the stretch would see a 10 to 20 percent increase in vehicles due to the road changes, and has proposed eliminating a lane of parking nightly on the north curb to create an extra lane for through traffic.
Examiner.com - April 29, 2010 - By Molly Zelvonberg