Two Metropolis Council Members, two state Senators, a Borough President and the pinnacle of town’s foremost bike and pedestrian advocacy group met with Division of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on Monday — and acquired what members stated was a agency quasi-commitment that town would take again a lane on the Queensboro Bridge from automobile drivers and eventually give it again to pedestrians, who at the moment share a single crowded lane with cyclists moving into each instructions.
“Everybody needs this undertaking to occur, together with Polly Trottenberg,” stated Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who walked the bridge together with his Council colleague Ben Kallos, plus state Senators Jessica Ramos and Michael Gianaris, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Transportation Options Govt Director Danny Harris and Trottenberg. “And everybody is aware of these are disastrous budgetary instances, however the cash isn’t the problem. It’s a small amount of cash comparatively talking.”
Properly, the whole lot’s relative. On the walkthrough, Trottenberg threw out a number of value tags to make the bridge’s south outer roadway protected for pedestrians: $3 to $4 million for state-approved fencing to $12 million for a city-approved fence design, members stated. And she or he requested the members for endurance as she intends to ask the mayor for approval to maneuver forward, a political ask that isn’t going to be simple when town is dealing with billions in crimson ink.
That stated, Kallos and Van Bramer every management $5 million in discretionary funding, and each has promised to pay a good portion of no matter Trottenberg wants. Brewer, whose discretionary capital finances as borough president is far bigger, has additionally promised to contribute.
Working to grasp how we make this roadway a spot for pedestrians quick.
Each Queens & Manhattan residents want this to occur. pic.twitter.com/NXUhdabITp
— Ben Kallos, NYC Council Member (@BenKallos) October 5, 2020
Kallos stated he was additionally optimistic.
“My query for the DOT coming into this was what kind of dedication do they should get this course of began — and the response was the method has already began,” the Manhattan lawmaker stated.
However there are many devils in that course of. Kallos and different members stated that after the DOT decides on whether or not it’s going to do an costly fence or a less-expensive fence, it has two choices: it might write a “change order” on the present roadwork on the bridge to incorporate the fence, however that may require the bridge’s present contractor to conform to do the work at a suitable value (which could not occur, provided that the contractor would have town over a barrel) — or town might undergo the conventional procurement course of, which wouldn’t should be regular in any respect.
“It might be executed as an emergency procurement, which might require a sign-off by town comptroller, however my colleagues assume that might be executed,” Kallos stated, including optimistically that beneath both state of affairs, building might start in six months.
Different hurdles stay: the bridge is a metropolis landmark, which means any new fencing would want approval from the design fee (which is ironic, provided that the north outer roadway was fitted with a fence again in 2000, so it stands to cause that the identical fence ought to be pre-approved). However all agree that one thing must be executed.
“The present bike and pedestrian lane is farcical,” Kallos stated, referring to a latest picture displaying the bike lane markings crashing into one another. “If the bike lane isn’t large sufficient for the graphic representing two bikes to be painted on the bottom, it ain’t large sufficient for 2 precise bikes.”
— on my bike (@cosmicamericana) September 27, 2020
The truth that there was a gathering on the bridge in any respect is a testomony (OK, a small testomony, however a testomony nonetheless) to Streetsblog’s protection of the problem. Over the past a number of months, Streetsblog’s protection has revealed a shifting collection of explanations for why the DOT couldn’t convert the south outer roadway — which had lengthy been the pedestrian path on the bridge till it was given to vehicles completely within the Nineteen Nineties — into the walkway it lengthy was in order that pedestrians and cyclists in each instructions do not need to share a single roadway.
Initially, DOT stated it couldn’t even think about south outer roadway conversion till it had finished roadwork on the upper deck of the span. The agency later said it couldn’t repurpose the south outer roadway as a result of it lacked a safety and suicide fence. When Kallos and Van Bramer informed Streetsblog they might pay for the fence, the DOT went again to the higher deck renovations argument. However Trottenberg has said she would settle for the council members’ provide.
The time is NOW to make this highway for individuals! pic.twitter.com/er7kdTTqnB
— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) October 5, 2020
“It’s $3 million to save lots of lives,” Van Bramer stated. “The north outer roadway is dangerously crowded, with close to misses on a regular basis. It’s a catastrophe ready to occur. We have now an emergency right here. The purpose is to not wait till somebody dies on the bridge.”
Oddly, the numerous members to whom Streetsblog spoke on Monday stated the DOT’s main stall tactic — the argument that it couldn’t even think about conversion of the south outer roadway right into a pedestrian path till the higher deck work is accomplished — by no means got here up in any discussions on Monday. And background supplies offered by the company have clearly shifted in tone from warning to optimism.
— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) October 5, 2020
4 members — Van Bramer, Kallos, Ramos and a fourth principal who requested anonymity due to their place within the negotiations — stated nobody from DOT stated something in regards to the higher degree work as a cause for delay.
“It didn’t come up in any respect,” Van Bramer stated. “Clearly, we’ve damaged that logjam: the rallies, the petitions, the march last Sunday, Streetsblog getting our dedication to fund it — it’s working. I consider that if the mayor informed his finances director to provide Polly $3 million, it might be executed in a day. We left with a dedication that Polly will ask for the cash, so we’ll see. It’s nonetheless only a matter of political will.”
Kallos credited Van Bramer for beginning a push that now consists of “Transportation Options, Bike New York, StreetsPAC, the readers of Streetsblog and now three council members, two state senators and a borough president. DOT left with an understanding that this can be a sturdy sufficient coalition to get it executed.”
And it seems DOT understands that.
“We had a productive walkthrough at the moment, and we’re wanting ahead to working with elected officers and advocates to maneuver this undertaking ahead as rapidly as our building timeline and finances priorities enable,” company spokesman Brian Zumhagen informed Streetsblog.
Native New Yorker. Travel addict. Hardcore thinker. Analyst. Pop culture fanatic. I live in Queens with my wife Linda and our dog Clemenza.