Better Transit Service, Space for Peds Top CB4 Goals for 34th Street

Manhattan CB4’s transportation committee passed a resolution last night in favor of speedier transit and improved pedestrian conditions on 34th Street. The vote followed a brief presentation from NYCDOT outlining several options for a second phase of transit enhancements on the crosstown corridor. It’s still very early in the process: The decision whether to pursue BRT, light rail, or streetcars, for instance, is at least a few months away.

The purpose of last night’s meeting was to define goals for the project, so we don’t have dazzling drawings or concept plans to show you. But DOT’s Eric Beaton, a senior project manager in the office of planning and sustainability, did have an answer to the question that many Streetsblog readers may be asking: What happened to the 34th Street transitway concept that DOT and the MTA debuted last spring?

"That plan was a brainstorm, and we were very excited about it," Beaton told the audience. "We realized that the proper way to go about this was to take a
step back and follow a proper process. That doesn’t mean we’ve
forgotten about it."

Thirty-fourth Street has a lot going on: huge numbers of pedestrians (especially near Penn Station), local and express bus service, lots of crosstown car and truck traffic, commercial deliveries, ferry connections, and massive new development about to take shape at the Hudson Yards site on the far West Side.

Along with improved transit speeds and pedestrian conditions, the elimination of conflicts between buses and commercial deliveries was a top goal for the committee. Co-chair Christine Berthet said that a center-median configuration would make the most sense: "Having the [transit] infrastructure in the middle and protected is the one that will work."

DOT will take CB4’s goals into consideration as it evaluates different options — including physically-separated busways, streetcars operating in mixed traffic, and light rail with separate right-of-way. "Thirty-fourth Street is not exceptionally wide, so we’re looking at what the street can reasonably accommodate," Beaton said.

DOT has not yet decided whether to pursue federal funding for the project, but last night’s meeting fits within the process to receive money from
the New Starts program. While Beaton didn’t have a specific timetable for producing a finished design for 34th Street, the process "isn’t years long, it’s months long," he said.

  • Boris

    Did Vision42 have a presence? Not exactly their turf, but they are relevant.

  • They did not. It was a fairly small meeting — about 15 people present, half of whom were committee members.

  • Ray

    Glad they are taking the next steps with 34th Street…. and yes Penn Station is the major feeder of foot traffic. Keep talking about the corridor. Street cars – would be great.

    Yet, the bulk of Penn Station foot traffic pours out onto Seventh Avenue @ 32nd Street between 7th Ave and Ave of the Americas. It is mind boggling how dangerously overloaded this side street has become and it deserves immediate attention. Hope someone from the community board reads this.

    Pedestrians are have lost sidewalk space and have been forced to abandon it for the street. Sidewalks are now dominated by an familiar roster of vagrants, perpetual (and useless) scaffolding, illegal street merchants, unchecked street advertising and other obstructions.

    The small street is overloaded with taxis & liveries, emergency vehicles (sirens blaring (for no reason 80% of the time), a small fleet of MTA (M4) and private buses idling perpetually and impatient private vehicles ‘stuck’ in midtown’s mangled mess honking repeatedly.

    Exponentially increasing the danger at the Sixth Ave end – a full blown construction site – including cranes and a line of cement trucks. Pedestrians are regulated poorly. We are inches from disaster.

    This is truly a third world set up. I’d wager nearly 300-400K people per day walk this single block. And it seems completely ignored. The dangers and potential for injury are too many to list. How do we get someone to pay attention?

    Its obvious, this segment of 32nd Street should be pedestrianized, except for buses and emergency vehicles – which should NEVER be allowed to idle. Service and delivery vehicles should be limited to non-rush hour access.

    It’s time to recognize this problem and deal with it.

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