Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CB 5 Committee Approves Union Sq. Pedestrian Plaza Amid Protests

The plan to refashion Broadway north of Union Square has met with resistance from local residents.

Union Square Pedestrian Plazas Part of Larger Refashioning of Broadway
A rendering of the proposed redesign of E. 17th Street between Broadway and Park Avenue on the north side of Union Square. (NYC Department of Transportation) Community Board 5’s transportation committee approved  the Department of Transportation’s plan on Monday night.


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.

Union Square the Next Place to Go Car-Free in Pedestrian Plaza Proposal
Looking west along 17th Street near Union Square's north end, which the city will convert to a pedestrian mall with restricted car traffic. (Getty Images)

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.

Read More:

DNAinfo - June 22, 2010 - By Patrick Hedlund

Hostility over Union Square pedestrian plaza plans
Examiner.com - April 29, 2010 -  By Molly Zelvonberg

New York Post -  April 27, 2010  -  By Candace Amos

NY1 News - April 24, 2010

New York Times - April 23, 2010 - By Michael M. Grynbaum 

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