DOT Planners Commit to Presenting Grand/Clinton Street Traffic Proposal in June

Clinton Street at Broome Street.

Clinton Street at Broome Street.

Members of the local community have become increasingly frustrated in recent months as plans from the city to address worsening traffic congestion at Grand and Clinton streets have failed to materialize. This week, however, Department of Transportation (DOT) officials committed in writing to present a new traffic management proposal at an upcoming community meeting.

In April, State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou and other elected officials sent a letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Police Commissioner James O’Neill. It urged the city to come forward with solutions to the gridlock in the area leading to the Williamsburg Bridge. In June of last year, the city agreed to conduct a traffic study, but the initial results were “inconclusive.” DOT planners were expected to appear at this month’s meeting of Community Board 3’s transportation committee, but that didn’t happen.

In a response to Niou’s letter earlier this week, Trottenberg wrote that DOT’s Transportation Planning & Management Division would, “continue to partner with you as we have since last fall to address your concerns and review feasible solutions to alleviate traffic congestion at this location.” She added, “… we look forward to returning back to the community board in June to review our proposal.”

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In the letter, Trottenberg said DOT would be adding new signage to help direct traffic more efficiently to the Williamsburg Bridge. The signs are meant to “clarify traffic lane assignments,” and should be installed by the middle of June. She noted that exit signs on FDR Drive have been changed to encourage drivers to use East Houston Street to access the bridge. “We believe these modifications,” wrote Trottenberg, “will have an impact on reducing traffic congestion in this area.”

In a statement, Niou thanked DOT and the NYPD for taking some initial steps to address the situation. She added, “The Grand and Clinton street corridor continues to be pummeled by traffic, and it’s critical that we implement concrete solutions – and fast… I will continue to push for comprehensive solutions to this ongoing issue.”

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh said, “This community has long been calling for action to relieve the overcrowding at Clinton and Grand streets, and I’m glad my colleagues and I were able to amplify their voices. The DOT’s response and its recent actions are promising. I look forward to receiving a response from the NYPD and working with all stakeholders to finalize a long-term plan for the intersection this summer.”

 

Alysha Lewis-Coleman, chairperson of Community Board 3, expressed appreciation to the elected officials and city agencies for, “responding to community concerns regarding traffic congestion in the Clinton/Grand Streets area… We look forward to our continued work together to resolve these very challenging traffic problems in our community.”

Caroline Laskow, a local district leader on Grand Street, said, “Thank you to all our elected officials for continuing to advocate for a comprehensive solution to our neighborhood’s growing traffic problem. We look forward to reviewing the DOT’s proposals with community members in June, and hope that meaningful changes can be made before the L Train shutdown pushes even more cars onto these congested streets.” [The L Train will be taken offline for 15 months beginning in the spring of next year].

The date for the June meeting has not yet been announced. Meanwhile, CB3 and the Lower East Side Partnership are hosting a “Transportation Visioning Workshop” next week, on Wednesday, May 16. It’s the first step in coming up with a broad plan for the area around Delancey and Grand streets, which will be heavily impacted by at least three major development projects in the years ahead. The meeting takes place at Seward Park High School, starting at 6:30 p.m.

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DOT Response: Grand/Clinton Street Traffic by The Lo-Down on Scribd

Transportation Officials Grilled About Plan to Send 70 Buses Per Hour Over Williamsburg Bridge

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At a hearing held yesterday, members of the City Council raised serious concerns about the city’s plan to deal with the shutdown of the L Train in 2019. Local City Council member Margaret Chin said a part of the proposal – sending buses over the Williamsburg Bridge to the Lower East Side – seems like a recipe for disaster. Many of Chin’s constituents are already up-in-arms about congestion in the area around the bridge.

On Wednesday, the MTA and the city’s Department of Transportation released a plan for coping with the 15-month shutdown to repair the L Train tunnel under the East River. It includes stepped up service on other trains (including the J, M, Z), restricting usage of the Williamsburg Bridge to HOV-3 vehicles and deploying city buses over the bridge, among other measures.

The inner roadway of the bridge will be reserved for cars, while the outer roadway will be restricted to buses and trucks. There’s a possibility cars turning from the bridge onto Clinton Street would be allowed the use the outer roadway, as well. DOT has decided against a dedicated bus lane because the lanes of the bridge are too narrow.

During a hearing of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, Chin expressed deep skepticism about the practicality of moving so many buses over the East River crossing. “70 buses an hour? That’s more than one bus a minute,” said Chin. “I just can’t envision them coming down the Williamsburg Bridge.” 

Earlier this month,  residents packed a public meeting at the 7th Precinct, where DOT ‘s Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez addressed concerns about gridlock around the intersection of Clinton and Grand streets. The worsening conditions there are attributable to the heavy volume of traffic trying to access the bridge.

“You know that my constituents have been complaining about the congestion (in this area),” Chin added. “For them to see all these buses coming, especially during rush hour, and then making that turn where all those streets are so congested — it might work in a model, but in reality (the plan seems unrealistic).”

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg conceded that the plan will only work if automobile traffic is reduced on the bridge (4,000 cars now cross during peak periods). This is why, she said, it’s necessary to restrict the bridge to vehicles carrying three or more passengers during rush hour.

In response, Chin said, “I fully support HOV lanes. We should implement them now… There are too many cars coming in (to Manhattan) with just one person in them… (Implementing HOV lanes) could help minimize congestion we have already.” Chin also raised concerns about the MTA’s planning for more passengers on alternate subway routes. Specifically mentioning the J and F lines, Chin said, “MTA, are you prepared to accommodate more riders on those platforms.? It’s already extremely crowded.”

During the hearing, MTA and DOT officials acknowledged the issues raised by Council members, but they said the L Train shutdown poses many difficult transportation challenges. No matter how much planning takes place, they suggested, commuters are going to feel the pain. They pledged to continue a dialogue with Council members and to reach out to local community boards to solicit feedback.

Click here to watch the video from yesterday’s hearing.