Two thousand nineteen was a year in which Not in My Back Yard groups fought vital transportation projects tooth and nail — often taking to the courts to stop them. Yet even so, the city’s Department of Transportation inaugurated some sterling additions to the urban landscape that will make New York safer, cleaner and faster-moving. Here’s a review of the most exciting transit projects of the year:
The 14th Street Busway:
At some points this year, the busway appeared mired in court as NIMBY lawyer Arthur Schwartz and his band of wealthy-neighborhood associations plotted to foil the rollout of a transit project that benefits thousands of daily riders by brandishing specious claims about the need for environmental review. The project debuted in October and has not caused the massive traffic spillover onto side streets that its opponents predicted.
It’s the exact kind of “stand-out” project that urbanists hope will revive the fortunes of cities by cutting carbon emissions, eliminating parking, and reclaiming streets from single-occupancy vehicles.
“The results have been even more exciting than we thought, and it’s lifted our spirits to see the positive response, not just that the buses are moving faster, but the street feels calmer,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. Amen!
Residential Loading Zones:
Finally waking up to the streetscape changes wrought by e-commerce and for-hire vehicles, DOT gingerly began a program designating some curb space in residential areas for trucks to load or unload all the parcels that people have been ordering. The need for such zones everywhere is obvious — the glut of double-parked delivery truck, private vehicles and taxis, often blocking bus and bike lanes, has contributed to noise, pollution, crashes and even a number of traffic deaths.
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