Busway launches on 14th Street today

The busway launched on 14th Street this morning after getting delayed by a lawsuit filed by neighborhood residents and block associations. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Third time’s the charm for the busway?

A decision from the New York Supreme Court last Friday will allow the Department of Transportation to implement a busway on 14th Street following a court fight instigated by neighboring block associations that previously blocked the plan twice during the summer.

The New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division said in the 3-2 decision that the stay granted by a judge on Monday, August 9 was lifted, allowing the DOT to proceed with the plan, and the agency announced that the busway will go into effect on Thursday, October 3 for an 18-month pilot program.

The decision last Friday said that three of the five justices concurred, with Justices Barbara Kapnick and Troy Webber dissenting, with both noting that they would be willing to continue the interim stay to hear further arguments from Schwartz.

Continue reading

Street restoration begins on East 14th Street

Construction crews were out on East 14th Street on Tuesday morning removing barricades from an island near the front of the Associated Supermarket adjacent to the L train worksite. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Side residents may soon be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the L project—or at least across East 14th Street. The MTA noted in a newsletter sent out on Saturday that street restoration began on the Manhattan side for the L project over the weekend, meaning that construction crews would begin packing up and restoring a section of the street and sidewalk, clearing up some of the above-ground construction at the site in front of the Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town.

The construction management team working on the project said that street restoration means that the crew will reconstruct the street, sidewalk paving and trees back to the way it was before the project began.

“The biggest task is rebuilding the street itself,” the team said in the newsletter. “We’ll be doing that work ourselves, following very specific rules from the city [Department of Transportation].”

The process of street restoration includes multiple steps, beginning with dumping in backfill that is compressed with a heavy vibrating roller and tamping machines, followed by a base of concrete. An asphalt spreader will then move down the street with crews following to rake the asphalt even and to minimize traffic disruptions, this work is done at night.

Continue reading

Safety concerns about new Kips Bay bike lane

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal expressed concern last week that the new shared bike path underneath the FDR at the heliport is too narrow for both bikes and pedestrians. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Waterside Plaza tenants rallied last Thursday to protest the newly-installed shared bike/pedestrian path for the East River Greenway that runs adjacent to the heliport at East 34th Street that the Department of Transportation installed within the last month.

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal told Town & Village this week that there are a number of issues with the new configuration, primarily around the newly-painted lane by the heliport.

“It is a major thoroughfare for parents with children in strollers going to the United Nations International School and the British International School,” she said, noting that before the lane was painted recently it was a pedestrian path, but the new lane between 33rd and 34th Streets designates it as a shared bike and pedestrian path, making it cramped when both cyclists and pedestrians are there at once.

“It’s certainly not room for bikes going both directions and people walking,” she added.

Continue reading

Busway halted—again

Select Bus Service launched on the M14A/D at the beginning of July but it is the only SBS route in the city that doesn’t have a dedicated bus lane due to the current litigation. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Within days of a judge giving the 14th Street busway the go-ahead after a lawsuit prevented it from going into effect at the beginning of July, West Village, Union Square and Flatiron residents and community groups have once again held up the pilot program through an appeal.

Gothamist reported that shortly after the Department of Transportation, the city agency implementing the busway, had previewed the changes last Friday following the temporary restraining order being lifted on Tuesday, a judge granted an appeal to the community groups and stopped the busway from going into effect this past Monday.

Tensions have been high between transit advocates and the residents working to prevent the busway, particularly Arthur Schwartz, an attorney who filed the initial lawsuit and who also lives on West 12th Street, and have only increased since the end of last week.

Transit group Transportation Alternatives announced a press conference in front of Schwartz’s own West Village apartment to pressure Schwartz into dropping the lawsuit, planned for this past Wednesday after T&V’s deadline. Schwartz condemned the move as an intimidation tactic.

Continue reading

Restraining order on 14th Street busway lifted

The DOT is planning to launch the pilot program on 14th Street by next Monday, August 12. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A judge has lifted the temporary restraining order and denied the petition filed that put a halt to the busway on 14th Street this week. The judge felt the city had thoroughly examined the impact that the busway would have on traffic and they have the authority to implement the project, amNewYork reporter Vincent Barone noted on Twitter this past Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation told Town & Village on Tuesday that the agency has started work to implement the busway on Monday, August 12.

Attorney and West Village resident Arthur Schwartz, who originally filed the lawsuit, said that he felt the judge made a number of errors when deciding the case.

Continue reading

Letters to the editor, July 25

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Nike’s flag sneakers disrespectful

Re: “It Seems to Me,” T&V, July 11

While Christopher Hagedorn’s belief that the Betsy Ross flag sneakers were “cool” might be true and while Colin Kaepernick’s reasoning against the Betsy Ross flag sneakers I believe to be faulty at best; both sides of that argument missed a far more serious and important point.

If the Betsy Ross flag sneakers had been sold to the public, what would have happened to those sneakers when they wore out?  From my point of view, throwing those sneakers in the garbage would have been little different then from throwing any other American Flag in the garbage.  Total disrespect!

The proper retirement of the American Flag requires a ceremony at which old and worn our flags are burned.  The ceremony appropriately concludes with the call of the bugle: To The Colors.

Continue reading

Bike lane coming to FDR service road

The bike lane outside of Waterside Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Department of Transportation will begin implementing safety improvements on the FDR Service Road that include a two-way bike lane between East 25th and 33rd Street this month. The improvements specifically address the Greenway along Waterside Plaza, the Water Club at East 30th Street and the East 34th Street intersection near the heliport.

The DOT made the announcement about the project on Twitter last Thursday, although the plan was originally presented to Community Board 6 two and a half years ago in November 2016. The DOT had also announced plans last September to start implementation of the project in the fall but later said in November that it would be pushed back to this summer.

A spokesperson told Town & Village that the then-two-year delay was not unusual, given that the project was especially “complex” and the agency was still working out construction scheduling and the final designs. The DOT also attributed some of the delay to changes in the plan to the design around the Water Club.

Manhattan DOT Community Coordinator Colleen Chattergoon told members of Community Board 6 last fall that the Water Club didn’t want bike traffic directly in front of their entrance, so the design was adjusted to include granite planters and a Jersey barrier as buffers. The restaurant also agreed to relocate a large container currently in their parking lot so that the DOT could more easily implement the bike lane changes.

Continue reading

Department of Transportation fighting busway lawsuit

Select Bus Service launched for the M14A/D at the beginning of this month, despite the lack of a busway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Department of Transportation was once again unsuccessful last week in convincing a judge to lift a court order preventing the start of a new busway on 14th Street. West Village resident and attorney Arthur Schwartz filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the plan to prioritize trucks and transit on the corridor, arguing that banning private traffic would cause overwhelming congestion on the nearby side streets, and a judge blocked implementation of the plan just three days before it was supposed to go into effect.

The DOT was scheduled to appear in court on August 6 but the agency instead went back before a judge on July 2, asking that the court vacate the TRO. Schwartz said that the judge reviewing the application last week wouldn’t take the argument because approving the plan “opened up the possibility of a ping pong effect at great expense to the city and confusion to the public” in the event that the TRO was reinstated and vacated repeatedly, or if the injunction was reinstated at the August 6 appearance.

Schwartz said that Judge Gishe, the Appellate Division judge who wouldn’t vacate the TRO last week, read the papers over but argued that since DOT had identified 14th Street as a street needing SBS in 2011, the situation wasn’t an emergency.

Continue reading

DOT implementing busway 2.0

A bus travels west on East 14th Street. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Department of Transportation announced last week that transit and truck priority (TTP) and Select Bus Service on the M14 A/D will begin on 14th Street on July 1. The 18-month pilot project was designed specifically to help commuters traverse 14th Street while the work on the L train is being done and one of the main goals is to improve safety on the corridor.

The new regulations will be in effect from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., during which time only buses and trucks, defined as any vehicle with more than two axles or six or more wheels, can make through trips between Ninth and Third Avenues. All vehicles except MTA buses at signed locations will be restricted from making left turns off 14th Street at all times.

Unlike the previously proposed “busway” plan for the now-canceled L shutdown, under the new plan, other vehicles will be allowed on the street during the restricted times. However, this is only to access the curb and garages and they must turn at the next available right. Commercial vehicles will be allowed to load and unload in short-term metered loading zones and passenger vehicles can drop off and pick up along the whole corridor.

Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when the regulations are not in effect, all vehicles can make through trips along the corridor. “No Parking” regulations will allow expeditious loading and unloading along 14th Street.

Continue reading

City holds open house on East Side Coastal Resiliency

An open house on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project took place last week in Peter Cooper Village. (Pictured) A Stuyvesant Town resident, Lawrence Scheyer, speaks with a city representative. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents got another chance last week to provide feedback on the proposed East Side Coastal Resiliency project on Wednesday and Thursday during open houses in Peter Cooper Village.

Jeff Margolies, executive director for the office of intergovernmental and community relations at the Department of Design and Construction, said that the goal of the open houses was to present the overall project goals to residents and give residents the opportunity to ask questions.

“People can talk with talk with a lot of the city agencies involved in the project,” he said. “We have people here from the Parks Department, Department of Transportation, the Department of Buildings and a few others.”

A main concern for residents in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village is still regarding the structure that will be built on East 20th Street as part of the project, an interceptor gate building to help with drainage that would be constructed on the island near Avenue C on the southern side of the street.

Continue reading

(Updated) Parking will be suspended on E. 20th during bike lane painting (and a film shoot)

The recently reconfigured 20th Street. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Update: Wednesday at 9 a.m.: In addition to painting work, there will also be a film shoot taking place on East 20th Street.

In an e-blast to residents on Tuesday evening, StuyTown Property Services said, “The City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment has posted notices today on East 20th Street asking that all cars parked between 1st Avenue and Avenue C be moved by tomorrow, April 10th at 6pm. Per these postings, any questions should be directed to the location scout: Gayle, reachable at 347.762.4009.”

By Sabina Mollot

Due to a bike lane painting project happening later this week on East 20th Street, parking will be temporarily suspended along the street.

The announcement was first made via an email blast from StuyTown Property Services on Monday evening after management was made aware of the project.

“We do not have an exact date yet but are expecting the work to be started later this week,” general manager Rick Hayduk said in the email. “Signage is being posted along 20th, please make sure to follow all directions so that no cars are towed. More updates will follow as we have them.”

Continue reading

Stuyvesant Town residents slam re-designed 20th Street

Community residents attend a meeting that ended up focusing on the state of the recently reconfigured 20th Street. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents are fed up with the changes to East 20th Street and demanded that the street be returned to its pre-L-shutdown state before the city begins work on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project that will affect the roadway.

Tenants expressed their grievances about the state of the street at a recent meeting hosted by the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association. There, the Department of Design and Construction offered updates about the resiliency plan, which is intended to provide flood protection for the East Side in the event of another Hurricane Sandy.

Department of Design and Construction associate project manager Eric Ilijevich explained at the meeting that there is a structure that will likely be placed on East 20th Street near Avenue C that will help improve drainage during a flood event. Although this is not a new component to the plan, residents had concerns about the container due to the other changes that the street has undergone.

“Twentieth Street is being condemned by everything that you guys are planning,” Stuy Town resident Tom Nonnon said. “You need more community involvement.”

Continue reading

Letters to the editor, Mar. 7

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Maloney vs. Ocasio-Cortez on Amazon

I quote Mr. Sanders’s column, “Down the Amazon,” T&V, February 21: “…bowing to political pressure from politicians and communities in Queens, Mr. Bezos pulled the plug and backed out of his deal…to build a massive back office complex in Long Island City just a stone’s throw across the East River.”

For his statement to be factual, however, Mr. Sanders should have explained that Amazon’s Long Island City project in is fully within our, read: Hon. Carolyn Maloney’s, Congressional District. Ms. Maloney embraced the project as an opportunity despite its flaws and was distraught while appearing on TV and radio offering her take. She was articulate in explaining that there were no discretionary funds to re-purpose for schools or subways as was somehow suggested.

Instead, a newly elected Congress Member, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, one who spent thousands of dollars on Amazon last year alone, one who is not even in the Congressional District of the project, took credit for its demise:

“Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers and their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”

Continue reading

Stuyvesant Square Park in the dark for two months until light repairs

Light posts were left on while being tested on Monday in the park’s east section. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After two months of darkness, over a dozen lampposts in Stuyvesant Square Park that had stopped working some time in November finally saw some repairs on Monday morning though the work is apparently still ongoing.

The lamps being out of order were reported to the city early on by the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association as well as another park watchdog, Michael Alcamo and his Friends of Stuyvesant Square Park organization. Six of the lamp posts were in the park’s east section, with another four on Second Avenue, where the park is divided.

However, as Phyllis Mangels, a board member of the SPNA, explained it, while the association had reported the matter to Parks, Parks had to refer the matter to the Department of Transportation and as of Monday morning, Parks hadn’t gotten any feedback on when the lights would be fixed.

This meant the park had remained completely dark after dusk in some sections each night until shortly after Town & Village reached out to the DOT as well as Parks on Monday morning, which also coincided with some additional email nudging from SPNA and Friends.

Continue reading

Whose subway line is it, anyway?

MTA board meets on new L train plan, with mixed reviews

Some of the crowd at the L train meeting on Tuesday (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, as Governor Cuomo gave his state of the state address, which mentioned his eleventh hour L train shutdown alternative, the Metropolitan Transit Authority did as the governor’s been demanding, holding an emergency board meeting on the state of the L train.

At this meeting, which drew a crowd of over 100 people, a mix of members of the public and media professionals as well as at least a couple of elected officials, over a dozen MTA board members took turns asking questions about Cuomo’s alternative to the shutdown. There was no vote on whether to approve it or not.

Meanwhile, a few board members, including Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, were confused about what they were there for since the alternative repair plan to the Canarsie tubes has already been spoken about as if it’s a done deal.

“Is the decision made?” asked Trottenberg. “Do we have any actual role here? I’m not hearing that we do.”

Continue reading