By Maria Rocha-Buschel
After announcing in September that work would begin this fall on improvements to the Greenway on the East Side between Waterside Plaza and the East 34th Street Heliport, the Department of Transportation confirmed this week that it has been put on hold until next year.
A spokesperson for the DOT did not have specific details on when next year the work would begin but said that the agency expects to start work when the weather gets warmer and to complete the project by next summer.
DOT originally presented the project to Community Board 6 two years ago in November 2016 with plans for the bike lanes north of Stuyvesant Cove Park leading up to Waterside Plaza, past the United Nations International School and the Water Club, up to the heliport at East 34th Street, reconfiguring the lanes to make them more visible and separate cyclists from vehicle traffic.
Town & Village first learned that the plans were being postponed at a recent CB6 transportation committee meeting, with committee chair Sandra McKee confirming with a DOT representative present that the project will be implemented later than initially announced. McKee surmised that the reason for the further delay was that the DOT wanted to focus on plans for the L train shutdown but a spokesperson later told Town & Village that the schedule change is the result of coordination with local stakeholders that control part of the Greenway area where DOT is working to make improvements. No further information was available about any design changes to the plan since September.
When DOT announced in September that implementation would begin by the end of that month, representatives told Town & Village that the delay since the original announcement about the project in 2016 was partially due to coordination with the Water Club restaurant north of Waterside and specifically where the bike lane would be around their property.
Waterside Plaza Tenants Association President Janet Handal said that one of her concerns with the plan that DOT presented was where the bike lane was in front of the Water Club, noting that anyone walking to and from the restaurant would have to cross the bike lane, but one of the revisions since the project was first announced was to revise the design near the Water Club’s entrance. The current plan includes using a two-way Jersey barrier-protected bike lane north of the restaurant instead of having cyclists use the parking lot.
Mike Arnon, a resident of Waterside Plaza and vice president of the Waterside Tenants Association, expressed concern in September about safety issues around the entrance to the United Nations International School and Handal agreed, although she conceded that there wasn’t an easy fix.
“One of those conundrums is the crossover points at the United Nations School,” she said. “But I really don’t know what the answer to that is.”
Arnon said this week that he was in touch with DOT representatives earlier this fall about these safety issues, specifically in areas where bicyclists have to cross lanes of traffic, including near the UNIS entrance as well as the area right before the Water Club, but he said that he has not received a response yet. Representatives from DOT did not respond to a request for comment on this issue before T&V’s press time.