Tomorrow morning, the City Council's Transportation Committee will take up a bill that would require the Department of Transportation to notify communities about major construction projects. In recent years, residents on the Lower East Side and in Chinatown have been highly critical of the DOT. The Grand Street bike lanes, the Allen Street Mall beautification and the Chatham Square re-configuration are the most glaring examples.
Neighborhood groups have argued that the changes caused traffic congestion to become worse, made Lower Manhattan's streets more dangerous and choked off access to small businesses. But they are particularly agitated about a perception that the DOT is imperious, ignoring their concerns and doing as it pleases.
The bill, proposed by Councilmember Alan Gerson, would require the DOT to post notices about proposed street changes – and to engage communities in a meaningful way about their plans.
Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy organization for pedestrians and bicyclists, strongly disagrees with the notion that the city has not provided opportunities for community input. Through the Community Boards, the organization argues, people have ample opportunity to express their viewpoints about the DOT's plans.
Margaret Chin, who almost certainly will replace Gerson on the City Council in January, plans on attending tomorrow's hearing. Also attending will be members of the Civic Center Residents Coalition, which has fought many of Mayor Bloomberg's transportation initiatives. John Liu, the Democratic nominee for Comptroller, is the committee's chair.
The meeting takes place tomorrow at 10am, in City Council Chambers. Click here for directions.