Delancey Street Will Become a Makeshift Bus Terminal During L Train Shutdown

Photo: Manhattan Borough President's Twitter.

Photo: Manhattan Borough President’s Twitter.

Transit officials took local elected officials for a ride yesterday. In an effort to calm fears ahead of next April’s L Train shutdown, the MTA and the city’s Transportation Department (DOT) arranged the trip across the Williamsburg Bridge and along Delancey Street, up 1st Avenue  and over to Union Square.

Then last night, the MTA held a public meeting to discuss an environmental review examining the impact of the 15-month shutdown on neighborhoods throughout the city. Most of what’s in the Supplemental Environmental Assessment we already know, but there are a few new details that caught our eye.

The MTA believes most commuters will shift to other train lines (including the J, M, Z ). As previously reported, officials are planning to send 80 buses an hour during peak hours over the Williamsburg Bridge.  The bridge will be restricted to buses, trucks and HOV 3+ vehicles from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

About 17% of L Train passengers are expected to use buses to travel back-a-forth between Brooklyn and Manhattan. There will be four separate bus lines. The “L1 SBS” route, for example, will take Delancey Street to Allen Street and move up 1st Avenue. During the morning rush, there will be a bus every 2 and 1/2 minutes. And that’s just on one of four shuttle bus lines.

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According to the MTA, all shuttle buses will stop at Essex Street to allow customers to transfer at the Delancey Street Subway Station. There will be stops on both sides of Essex. The city will be installing protected bike lanes on Delancey Street in the next few weeks. The environmental study determined that up to 3500 bicyclists will cross the bridge during the morning rush.

For the Lower East Side, there’s good news and bad news. On one hand, officials expect regular automobile traffic on and around Delancey Street to be reduced dramatically. On the other hand, Delancey will be turned into a makeshift bus terminal for the duration of the L Train shutdown. According to the environmental assessment:

The Williamsburg Bridge HOV3+ bus priority configuration would dramatically reduce the number of auto trips across the bridge during peak periods… Modeling results indicate that almost 3,000 vehicles could be diverted from the Williamsburg Bridge in the AM peak hour and almost 3,500 vehicles in the PM peak period. On balance, the HOV3+ option would provide for a more convenient transit connection serving an estimated 4,600 riders (about 4,100 Manhattan-bound trips and 500 Brooklyn bound trips) and travel speeds would be greatly enhanced for all remaining users of the bridge. The large reduction in vehicles crossing the bridge would be expected to ease traffic congestion and increase overall speeds on the streets leading to and from the bridge in both Manhattan and Brooklyn.

And then there’s this:

Along portions of… Delancey Street, Allen Street, and Kenmare Street in Manhattan, temporary bus priority treatments would be installed to support the interborough services. These temporary treatments may include roadway resurfacing, painted pedestrian spaces, red painted bus lanes, roadway markings, bus stop curb extensions and changes to street direction.

While it’s only a fall back location, there’s a chance officials will decide to use a space beneath the Williamsburg Bridge for bus storage. Here’s how that possibility is explained in the environmental review:

This site is MTA NYCT’s second preferred location for overnight parking of articulated buses for the temporary bus fleet expansion. The site would only be pursued should the Port Authority site become unavailable. The site is in Manhattan under the Williamsburg Bridge on-ramp (Between Columbia and Lewis streets)… Work would include minor upgrades to existing on-site security fencing and lighting… All improvements would be localized to the existing parking lot

Over the weekend, the MTA announced that we’ll be getting a taste of the L Train shutdown well before next spring. For 15 weekends, including this upcoming weekend, there will be no L Train service to and from Brooklyn as the MTA prepares for the full-scale closure of the Canarsie Tunnel.

 

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