Advocates and officials on Wednesday called on the city to continue the implementation of exclusive bus and bike lanes and a slew of other street changes proposed during the planning for an L train shutdown that now won’t happen.
The changes include designated bike lanes on Manhattan’s 12th and 13th streets, which already have been completed, as well as a designated bus lane on 14th Street, which is in the process of being implemented. Other changes have not yet been put into action, such as plans for HOV+3 restrictions on the Williamsburg Bridge to accommodate several planned shuttle bus routes between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Advocates said the future of these plans — and whether the de Blasio administration will preserve the changes already made — are up in the air.
"When they brought us in to give us a briefing on the new plan a few weeks ago . . . there wasn’t a plan, there wasn’t an answer," said Councilman Keith Powers, whose district includes the eastern portion of 14th Street. "I think the concern that we have is when you don’t have the full shutdown, they believe you don’t have the full need for the mitigation plan. And to be honest, we haven’t gotten a certain answer yet and that’s what we’re all concerned about . . . and for me, personally, I’ve said it, this needs mitigation regardless of the L train shutdown. It only needs it a lot more when you actually shut the train down."
In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo determined the L train would not need to be completely shut down for 15 months for infrastructure renovations caused by flooding from Superstorm Sandy. Instead, the work will take place during overnight hours and weekends.
When asked for comment, a spokesman for the mayor’s office referred amNewYork to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s previous statements in which he said the administration has to decide "if there’s anything that we were planning that is no longer needed because of the L train but that we might want to do anyway" and said those decisions will take "several weeks."
"We haven’t heard official word of what’s going to happen with the mitigation plans," said Erwin Figueroa, a senior organizer with Transportation Alternatives. "This was needed even before the L train was announced that it needed to be shutdown. Every day we have thousands of New Yorkers stuck on a bus on 14th Street . . . We want this to be kept irrelevant of what happens with the L train construction in the tunnels."
Figueroa said he expects overcrowding on nights and weekends with the new construction plan, and that these alternatives are needed to mitigate that.
"New Yorkers want this. This is a long, hard process . . . We don’t want to throw a two- or three-year plan down the drain because of certain aspects of the L train tunnel changing," he said.