Last week’s meeting of Community Board 3’s transportation committee produced more details about the Grand Street Water Main Project, the huge City initiative to improve water pipelines below Grand Street from Broadway to Essex Street. Representatives from the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) were on hand to present the project’s timeframe, telling the committee that construction and accompanying traffic and water disruptions would not reach the Lower East Side until 2014. The project is slated to begin this summer and move east slowly until it reaches Essex in 2017.
But even though the first phase of the big project is taking place west of Bowery, officials said there will be some impacts in this neighborhood a lot sooner. This is because, they said, the city is planning to use a site beneath the Williamsburg Bridge for the storage of construction materials.
According to city plans, the storage area would include the sidewalk and a portion of the roadway on the east side of Columbia Street. While the DDC considered keeping a part of the sidewalk open for a walking path between two separate, enclosed storage areas, the agency soon grew wary of that plan’s potential for danger. A long, narrow path with limited visibility and only two available exits might prove the perfect setting for crime. CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer, who was present at the meeting, said the commanding officer at the 7th Precinct told her he had been concerned about safety under the bridge. The new plan calls on pedestrians to cross to the opposite side of the block when walking up Columbia Street.
The DDC presentation required no action from the board, and the DDC is now waiting for the Department of Transportation to grant a permit to use part of Columbia Street for storage. According to DDC Public Information Officer Craig Chin, the DOT is currently reviewing the storage proposal for that location, which the DDC selected because of its size and proximity to work sites along Grand Street.