Report: 14th Street busway halted once again by last-minute appeal
And just when you thought the 14th Street busway was debuting today.
On Friday afternoon, a judge halted the city’s plan to ban almost all cars on a portion of 14th Street between Third Avenue and Ninth Avenue, according to published reports. (NY1 had it first. Here’s Gothamist’s coverage.)
This marked the end of a chaotic busway week. A quickie recap: Last Tuesday, State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower lifted a temporary injunction on the 14th Street busway, allowing the city to move forward with its plans.
In late June, right before the new busway was to launch on July 1, a coalition of block associations — repped by attorney Arthur Schwartz — filed a last-minute lawsuit to block the project, arguing that the city failed to complete the proper environmental review for the work.
On Friday afternoon, the city was out educating drivers on the changes that were to take effect today…
DOT staff were out this morning reminding drivers about new 14th St regulations going into effect on 8/12:
6AM-10PM Every Day: Buses & trucks only btn 9th-3rd Aves. All other vehicles may make local trips, but must turn at the next available right.
The coalition of wealthy West Village and Chelsea landowners, who lost their court bid to stop the Busway on Tuesday afternoon filed a hurried appeal that was granted by the Appellate Division on Friday …
According to the court papers, Schwartz’s plaintiffs, who are among the wealthiest people in the city, argued that Justice Eileen Rakower was wrong in allowing the Busway to proceed because the city did not actually take the required “hard look” at possible impacts of the car-free Busway that is necessary under state environmental law.
Transit champions were suitably outraged:
“For every day that the 14th Street busway is on hold, M14 rush hour commuters lose two weeks worth of time that they will never recover. Time wasted stuck behind cars in stalled traffic is time away from family, friends, work, and New York‘s civic life” — Riders Alliance spokesperson Danny Pearlstein
“This tiresome, tedious effort to circumvent the democratic process delays tangible improvements to the commutes of tens of thousands of working New Yorkers. It’s despicable, and we’re not going to accept it.” — Thomas DeVito, senior director of advocacy at Transportation Alternatives
And per Streetsblog: “Schwartz was pleased. He said Friday’s ruling will delay the Busway for ‘months’ as the appeal is heard.”
The busway aimed to help move people during the L-train slowdown. Private through-traffic would be banned between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on 14th Street between Third Avenue and Ninth Avenue. Buses, trucks and emergency vehicles would be given priority in the center lanes between Third Avenue and Ninth Avenue. Cars would be allowed to make pickups and drop-offs as well as access local garages.
The neighborhood groups repped by Schwartz have argued that the city has not undertaken a sufficient environmental review of the vehicle restrictions, which they say would cause “horrific traffic jams” on residential side streets while contributing to more pollution.
Here’s local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera’s reaction to the news…
Every day these lawsuits continue means another NYCHA resident is dealing with the slowest bus service in the city. It means car exhaust increases in 1 of the most polluted parts of Manhattan. And it means we’re 1 day further away from breaking the car culture.
This has to end! https://t.co/5oeuzJrH60
— Carlina Rivera 利華娜 (@CarlinaRivera) August 9, 2019