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Transportation & Environment

NYC DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION Broadway: Union Square Proposed Safety Improvements

WHEREAS, In a continuing effort to promote safety for pedestrians, motor vehicles, bicyclists, and other users of the public streets and sidewalks and to improve the flow of vehicular traffic, the Department of Transportation ("DOT") has developed a pilot program to implement certain changes to traffic flows in and around Union Square; and

WHEREAS, Over the course of three consecutive meetings lasting more than six hours in total, the Transportation and Environment Committee ("the Committee") of CB5 heard a thorough airing of the differences of opinion between and among DOT and some members of the residential and business communities in the Union Square vicinity; and

WHEREAS, At the June, 2010, meeting of the Committee, DOT again presented its preliminary outline of the proposed pilot plan, which included:

(i)         conversion of 17th Street between Broadway and Park Avenue South from a two-way street to a one-way street with traffic flowing westbound only,

(ii)        simplification of traffic signals at the intersection of Broadway, 17th Street and Union Square West,

(iii)       simplification of the intersection of 17th Street and Park Avenue South,

(iv)       prohibition of eastbound turns from Union Square West onto 14th Street,

(v)        installation of a protected bicycle lane, floating parking lane, and  one travel  lane on Broadway from 23rd to  17th Streets,

(vi)       widening of the sidewalk on the east side of Broadway from 18th to 17th Streets,

(vii)      in order to improve the flow of traffic on Park Avenue South, putting in place the following restrictions: going north, no westbound turns will be permitted at 19th and 23rd Streets; going south, no eastbound turns will be permitted at 18th Street; and

(viii)     adding right turn lanes at 23rd, 22nd and 20th Streets at Park Avenue South to accommodate downtown bound traffic; and

WHEREAS, At the June 2010, meeting of the Committee, DOT presented an amended preliminary outline of the proposed pilot plan that reflected substantive changes made to respond to and accommodate many of the concerns expressed at two previous Committee meetings and subsequent meetings with DOT and the residents, which included:

(i)         eliminating the closure of Broadway to through traffic at 18th Street in order to mitigate the concern that such closure would significantly increase traffic on 18th Street between Broadway and Park Avenue South,

(ii)        moving the bicycle lane from the east side of Broadway to the west side of Broadway between 23rd and 17th Streets,

(iii)       adding dedicated turning lanes on 18th Street on both the right- and left-hand sides of that street at its intersection with Park Avenue South in order to address concerns of traffic congestion at that intersection,

(iv)       restricting overnight and weekend parking at the north curb of 18th Street between Park Avenue South and Broadway to reduce congestion and horn-honking caused by late evening club traffic,

(v)        allowing southbound traffic from Broadway to continue uninterrupted onto Union Square West,

(vi)       allowing through-traffic on Union Square West from 17th to 14th Streets to flow at all times,

(vii)      moving the Greenmarket parking from the east side of Union Square West to the west side of that street,

(viii)     adding additional dedicated turning lanes from affected side streets onto Park Avenue South, and

WHEREAS, In response to the request of members of the community, DOT also committed to cease all preparatory work on the Union Square proposed pilot proposal prior to approval of a resolution by the Board; and

WHEREAS, In response to the request of members of the community, DOT also agreed to work with the MTA to seek possible diversion of express bus routes from the Broadway/Park Avenue South corridor onto the Fifth Avenue corridor; and

WHEREAS, DOT indicated that other changes requested by certain members of the community would compromise the safety-related portions of the proposed pilot plan as currently envisioned and would make it impossible for DOT to move forward with the proposed pilot plan; and

WHEREAS, The Committee was satisfied that, through the six hours of public testimony and numerous letters and petitions submitted to the Board and the Committee, the Committee had a thorough understanding of the issues at hand and the opinions and concerns of those members of the public that are opposed to the proposed pilot plan and their reasons therefore; and

WHEREAS, Other residents voiced endorsement of the proposal and emails and letters of support have been received by the board office; and

WHEREAS, The Committee, after discussion, believes that changes set forth in the proposed pilot plan bear a reasonable relationship to the goals of improving safety and traffic flow, as proposed by DOT; and

WHEREAS, The Committee also believes that modifications to the proposed pilot plan made in response to input from certain members of the community substantially address, in a manner consistent with the overall goals of the proposed pilot plan, the concerns raised by those members of the community during said oral and written public testimony; and

WHEREAS, The Committee re-iterated and the DOT confirmed that members of the community would continue to have input to the overall design of the proposed pilot, with particular emphasis on the use and configuration of the widened sidewalk between 17th and 18th streets, continuing through to the Committee's August, 2010 Committee meeting as established at the Committee's May, 2010 meeting; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five supports the implementation of the DOT's proposed pilot plan for Union Square, upon the conditions that:

(i)         DOT allow community input, through the auspices of the Union Square Partnership or otherwise, into the potential uses of the widened sidewalk on the easterly side of Broadway between 18th and 17th Streets,

(ii)      that DOT collect data amassed during the period of the proposed pilot program, covering the project area and areas adjacent thereto, regarding the traffic volume changes (by location), traffic speed changes, pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular safety statistics, and GPS data from taxis, and compare it to existing data, 

(iii)     that DOT report back to the Board with such data at the end of each of the 3rd and 6th months following the implementation of the proposed pilot plan. 

The above resolution passed with a vote of 24 in favor, 1 opposed, 1 abstaining.

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