Congestion pricing: DOT touts dozens of proposed street redesign projects to come following start of Manhattan toll program

Bike lanes ahead of congestion pricing
Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists on 8th Avenue in Midtown.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is touting dozens of new street redesign projects it intends to undertake with the looming June 30 start date for congestion pricing.

The agency says it has 37 bus lane and bike lane projects in various stages of development for 2024 and 2025, according to its new “Connecting to the Core” report released Thursday. It’s unclear when any might actually be completed.

Proposals within the Central Business district (Manhattan below 60th Street) include a two-way protected bike lane on Delancey Street near the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge; expanding protected bike lanes on Third Avenue north to 128th Street and south to 23rd Street; and new crosstown bike and bus lanes through Central Park on 72nd and 96th Streets, respectively.

Officials are also considering upgrading existing bus lanes on 34th Street to a dedicated busway, exclusively for use by buses, which currently crawl along the crosstown thoroughfare at about 5 miles per hour.

In the outer boroughs, the Adams administration is proposing new bus recommitting to building new bus lanes along Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and on Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, and is presenting new plans for bus lanes on Brooklyn’s Church Avenue and Flatlands Avenue.

Improvements are slated for Kings Highway in Brooklyn and Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens, both key arterial roads with existing bus lanes.

West 34th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in ManhattanPhoto via Google Maps

“Congestion pricing will reduce traffic, improve air quality in our communities, and raise critical funding for our subways and buses,” said DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “We have been preparing for this moment for over a decade, and with fewer cars entering the tolled zone, we can repropose street space to make commuting by bus, bike, or on foot safer, faster, and more reliable.”

Nonetheless, DOT has weathered criticism for failing to meet legally mandated benchmarks for building new bus and bike lanes.

Under the 2019 Streets Master Plan law, the administration was required to have built 80 miles of new protected bike lanes and 50 miles of new bus lanes in its first two years. But it’s only completed 58.2 miles of new bike lanes and a paltry 9.6 miles of bus lanes, frustrating advocates, politicians, and even the MTA, which wants to speed up its notoriously slow buses.

The administration has also notably backed off of several key projects after complaints from prominent local interests, some of whom have donated to the mayor’s political campaigns. Those include a road diet on McGuinness Boulevard in Brooklyn and a busway on Fordham Road in the Bronx.

Congestion pricing will levy a toll on most motorists entering Manhattan south of 60th Street, starting June 30, in a bid to reduce traffic in the central business district and raise money for the MTA’s mass transit infrastructure. Officials expect traffic to drop by about 17% in the congestion zone.