BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | After hearing shouts, Arthur Schwartz stepped out of his W. 12th St. brownstone and began offering pastries to a crowd of roughly 50 protesters that had gathered around his stoop.
The protesters, most of whom were from Transportation Alternatives, called on the West Village attorney to “drop the suit” that, last Friday, resulted in an Appellate Division court issuing a stay that blocked the start of the 14th St. busway.
The busway is the city Department of Transportation’s proposed 18-month pilot program, in which only buses, three-axle trucks and emergency vehicles could use the major crosstown street as through traffic between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The plan is intended to mitigate any negative travel impacts caused by the L-train “slowdown” due to subway-tunnel repair work and, in general, to speed up straphangers’ commutes.
Schwartz represents a broad swath of Chelsea and Village block associations and condo boards that fear that closing 14th St. to cars, vans and small trucks would force the vehicles onto neighborhood side streets, causing congestion, noise and air pollution, and vibrations from excessive traffic, among other problems.
Schwartz referred to the protest as “thuggery” that had nothing to do with honest political discourse
Tom DeVito, director of advocacy for Transportation Alternatives, speaking shortly before the protest ended, said the busway advocates will keep up the pressure.
“We will keep on fighting and not stop,” he vowed.