You’re going to have to wait a little bit longer to find out how the city plans to relieve traffic congestion on the residential blocks leading to the Williamsburg Bridge.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a study last summer in response to a litany of complaints about heavy traffic on Clinton Street and Grand Street. The initial results were inconclusive, so the agency has been continuing to collect traffic data and to search for possible solutions. This past Thursday night, DOT officials provided an update at a poorly attended meeting of Community Board 3.
In the past year or two, DOT has changed signage on FDR Drive and Grand Street, and adjusted traffic signal times. They hoped some drivers on FDR Drive would choose to use East Houston Street to access the Williamsburg Bridge. They have also tried to coax drivers on Grand Street to use Norfolk Street instead of Clinton Street to reach the bridge.
During last week’s presentation, city officials said these strategies have not been very successful. Their research shows that it still takes longer for drivers to get from FDR Drive to the bridge using East Houston Street as opposed to Grand Street. One slide used in their presentation noted, “Without major changes to the network, mapping programs will continue to direct drivers to Grand (Street).”
DOT is now analyzing the impact of several large-scale proposed changes. The most significant proposal involves turning the south-side Delancey Street service road into the main artery for cars and trucks to access the Williamsburg Bridge. Another possibility is restoring Norfolk Street as the main access point to the bridge from Grand Street. Engineers are examining whether to hold more cars on the exit ramp at FDR/Grand Street. They’re also looking at turning Clinton Street between Grand Street and East Broadway into a southbound only block. DOT expects to have reached some conclusions by the end of the summer. Other proposed changes won’t be fully evaluated until December.
In analyzing the data, there are several complications. For one thing, construction at Essex Crossing has made it difficult to evaluate the impacts of proposed changes under normal conditions. For another, the looming shutdown of the L Train will have a dramatic impact on neighborhood traffic. On one hand, a large number of shuttle buses will be flowing over the bridge onto Delancey Street. But, given the city’s plan to restrict traffic on the bridge to buses, trucks and high occupancy vehicles, there is likely to be a temporary reduction in traffic on local streets.
Residents attending last week’s meeting expressed frustration that it’s taking so long to come up with solutions. DOT officials said they have a larger group working on the issue than they did last year, and they’re confident that progress will be made in the fall and winter of this year. Ed Pincar, an assistant commissioner, said, “We’ll stick to this fall schedule, give or take a month or two.”
You can see the full presentation below.