NYC Stim Projects Help Fund Big Bike-Ped Improvements

bklyn_bridge.jpgBrooklyn Bridge upkeep grabbed headlines this morning, but wait til you see what’s happening on Houston Street.

Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the list of city transportation projects set to receive an injection of federal stimulus cash. Budget-wise, the big ticket items are mostly bridge repair projects, but channeling those stim bucks toward necessary maintenance also frees up a lot of money for other things, including a sizable slate of pedestrian and bicycle improvements. In New York, at least, there are plenty of "shovel-ready" projects to get excited about.

Here are some highlights from each borough:

Manhattan

Wider sidewalks, bigger medians and — just like the Soho Alliance always wanted — bicycle lanes on Houston Street from Second Ave to the FDR Drive. This street reconstruction will also result in the creation of two new plaza areas. It goes out to bid this summer and is slated to wrap up in 2011. We have a request in to DOT to find out if the bike lanes will be physically protected.

Wider sidewalks and bike lanes on West 125th Street. The project includes the creation of a transit hub at 12th Avenue. Goes out to bid next spring and scheduled for completion in 2014.

The Bronx

A basket of improvements in Hunts Point and Port Morris will include "a greenway to help improve air quality, encourage recreation and reduce pollution in an area plagued with high asthma and obesity rates." The project is receiving stimulus funds directly and will go out to bid this spring, scheduled for completion in 2012.

Brooklyn

As part of upgrades to Flatbush Avenue
from Tillary Street to Hanson Place, the city will construct "an elevated landscaped median in
the street, and new pedestrian crosswalk refuges at medians." Slated to be finished in June, 2011.

New sidewalks featuring "specially designed, tinted concrete" on Fulton Street and Nostrand Avenue in the commercial heart of Bed Stuy, targeted to debut in winter 2011.

Queens

A project at Queens Plaza in Long Island City will "rationalize the traffic network, enhance the pedestrian environment, improve streetscape elements and create a public plaza." Scheduled for completion in spring 2011.

Staten Island

Not much in the way of pedestrian or bike improvements over in Richmond, but the renovation of the St. George Ferry Terminal will wrap up this fall with the addition of 20,000 square feet of retail space.

We have queries into DOT for renderings and more details on some of these items. Check out the city’s press release for a complete list of local transportation projects the stimulus will help to fund.

  • I look forward to the civilizing of Houston Street. I often use it to get to the terminus of the M5 bus and it’s always an unpleasant place to walk.

  • houston st

    If the DOT will create bike lanes on Houston St, they better put them in the median that separates Houston St. Do not put bike lanes along the curb. It will interfere with car parking and businesses along Houston St. We’ll have another disaster like Grand St.

  • If Grand Street is a disaster, bring on Godzilla.

  • Ryan

    Why leave out the biggest project on Staten Island? The $175M reconstruction of the ferry bus ramps and parking area. I realize it doesn’t involve bike lanes, this boards holy grail, but it will be dramatic improvement to the terminal.

  • JSD

    I’m thrilled with the proportion of stimulus dollars making their way down to us lowly Staten Islanders. When it comes to boroughs with mass transit issues, I think Staten Island is at or near the top. That some of the cash is going to help grow retail in the Ferry Terminal is even better news.

    Yet I am utterly confused as to why the only retail currently occupying the Staten Island terminal (Whitehall St is also seriously lacking when it comes to retail space) is an under stocked convenience store. There’s a lot more going on than just sky high rents, although that is probably another major sticking point. I’d love to hang out in a cafe or bar after a long week before the train ride home. And to do so in or just outside the St. George terminal, with a view of the city from the waterfront would be a great, great thing.

    Sad to say, the Island’s leadership is completely lacking. Here’s to hoping, for once, it actually works out.

  • JSD

    Ryan,

    I’d love for them to just build over the parking lot. Keep it in place, but build something above it on level with the terminal itself. The parking lot looks like a giant pit of nothingness, does little to improve the overall look and feel of the area, and could be contributing a heck of a lot more in terms of valuable real estate. I’m not sure how feasible it is, but I believe it was part of one of the urban design plans released by the Downtown Staten Island Council. But that is the thing with Staten Island. Lot of grand plans and studies. Just about zero action. It took a stimulus from on high to start getting things done.

    I agree though, it would have been nice to get a mention of the improvements in the post. The island seriously came out ahead in this plan. And that’s not something Islanders get to say very often.

  • Ryan, the bus ramps were getting play in the papers today, so I didn’t mention them here.

  • tacony palmyra

    Anybody have any details on the 12th Avenue “transit hub” in West Harlem? I don’t really understand what this would involve. The train is on Broadway, not 12th Ave, and I think the only bus that goes over to 12th is the Bx15. I don’t see what they could be doing to “facilitate connections between the several modes of transportation present in the area” unless they’d be including some sort of long, expensive elevated walkway from the elevated station at Broadway down to bus layover points of some such at 12th Ave? It’s a long block. Any other “transit hubs” in the city that this could possibly be similar to? Is it basically a big bus shelter?

    A quick google search reveals an earlier writeup of the proposal on EDC’s website, where it’s described as an “inter-modal station,” but again, what are the other modes? Bikes? Future ferry service?

  • Mike

    The West Harlem waterfront master plan says: “A potential MetroNorth stop at 125th St, improved bus service, and a ferry landing would create an intermodal center… Reconfiguration of the Henry Hudson Parkway ramps and partial closing of waterfront streets would improve the pedestrians’ experience. Streetscape improvements along 125th Street and 12th Avenue would demarcate the waterfront’s proximity and enhance street life.”

  • vnm

    Info on the potential Metro-North station at 125th Street (along with one on the Upper West Side and three new stations in the Bronx) is on the MTA’s website.

  • So that’s the answer to the commenters who keep asking why “the MTA is wasting money” on the LIRR East Side Access project. The project would allow Metro-North trains to go into Penn Station, with potential stops in Upper Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens.

  • J-Uptown

    Cap’n Transit, you are correct, sir. This project has been studied for a while, now, but they have to wait until ESA is finished. The 125th station makes the most sense in terms of connections to transit, and available land for building the station (empty lots underneath the tracks & highway). The only problem I can see is that the station would only serve the Hudson line. The Harlem & New Haven Lines would have to take the Hell Gate through Queens to get to Penn Station. In any case, the money is there to build the thing.

  • drosejr

    Also, don’t forget that 125th St. and 12th Ave. abuts Columbia’s proposed Manhattanville campus. I would guess this station would be used mostly by those commuting to Columbia, with some reverse commuting up to Westchester. Interesting to see that this is getting fast-tracked through the stimulus plan, when East Side Access isn’t going to get done until 2015 (hopefully).

  • vnm

    J-Uptown, the money is NOT there to build anything until the Legislature comes up with some form of MTA aid package. Everyone thinks this is about fare hikes and service cuts. It’s really about the MTA 2010-2014 capital plan.

    Less importantly, it’s only the New Haven Line that would use the Hell Gate connection. The Harlem Line would not have access to Penn Station.

  • The DOT could f*ck up a wet dream!

    The good news: they are providing a bike lane for half of Houston Street, from the FDR to Second Ave, presumably in both directions.

    The bad news: the Houston Street westbound bike lane will end a block later at the Bowery. To proceed further west, instead of continuing on Houston Street, DOT makes us cut cross Houston at the Bowery, then proceed one block south to Prince and continue along Prince westward, dodging all the peddlers and meandering tourists occupying the Prince Street bike lane.

    The problem: DOT’s own stats indicate that Houston&Bowery is among the TEN DEADLIEST intersections in the city. TransAlt says it is THE most deadly: http://transportationalternatives.org/newsroom/media/2973
    So, DOT builds a bike lane that makes cyclists cut across a veritable minefield? WTF!

    If that doesn’t convince anyone, here is an email that the SoHo Alliance coincidentally received this afternoon: “by the way, I know it’s not really Soho but have you seen the bike path on Bleeker Street? Just before it hits Bowery it suddenly swerves into the center of the road. I was in a cab that nearly hit a bicyclist (on a rainy night when the cabbie couldn’t really see the road markings) and then a few weeks later I saw another near accident at the same spot. someone will definitely be killed or injured by this ridiculous design.”

    Yep, the DOT could f*ck up a wet dream! Then again, what would you expect from just another City agency and its bureaucrats?

  • West Houston Street also has a couple blocks of bike lane that begin somewhere around Hudson, where Houston is one way, and continue to the West Side bike path. Like the Bleecker Street bike lane, this Far West Houston Street bike lane also leads to the center of traffic as it approaches West Street, presumably to avoid turning traffic. But seems design to confuse drivers who don’t expect to see bikes in the middle of the street particularly in a dark underpass.

    Having another section of Houston Street bike lane, from Second Avenue to the FDR will be a real improvement. Let’s hope it’s a protected lane that will keep cyclists safe from the likes of those ParaTransit and accordion busses that seem use all lanes at the same time.

    But what about those of us who live, work or commute between Second Avenue and Hudson Street? The Bleecker Street and Prince Street bike lanes are a sorry excuse for a crosstown, river-to-river link. DOT saw fit to eliminate one lane of traffic on the eastbound side of West Houston. Too bad they couldn’t find space on that vast and barely used promenade for a bike lane instead.

  • Streetsman

    It really is a shame. Not having bike lanes on West Houston Street is one of the most stinging remnants of Iris Weinshall’s legacy. No cyclists wanted Prince Street – you’re trapped in a sea of cobblestones from Lafayette to West Broadway. Cyclists still use Houston anyway. Maybe JSK can get it river to river.

  • gecko

    #2 houston st, #3 Nathan H.: Medians down the center of two-way streets including Houston seem to be a really good way to eliminate conflicts at the curbs, stopping u-turning cars, and marginalizing cycling by not requiring cyclists to travel in the gutter.

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