Menchaca Calls for Direct Red Hook-Manhattan Bus Service and Safety Overhaul of 3rd Avenue

Council Member Carlos Menchaca with StreetsPAC Executive Director Eric McClure and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez this morning. Photo: David Meyer
Council Member Carlos Menchaca with StreetsPAC Executive Director Eric McClure and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez this morning. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Carlos Menchaca wants more direct bus service from Red Hook to Manhattan and a “full Vision Zero redesign” of Brooklyn’s Third Avenue, which runs through Sunset Park underneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Menchaca outlined his transportation agenda at a campaign event in Red Hook this morning.

Most of Red Hook is a long walk from the nearest subway station. Nine MTA express bus routes pass by the neighborhood, without stopping, on the way to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Menchaca is calling for an express bus stop that Red Hook residents can use for quick access to Manhattan. In addition, treatments to prioritize local bus service between Red Hook and north Brooklyn would improve transit access for the neighborhood, he said.

Menchaca also called for better walking, biking, and bus access to the new NYC Ferry stop at Atlantic Basin in Red Hook. Currently the only way to access the ferry landing is through an opening in a chain link fence that surrounds a huge parking lot.

All those improvements could happen “immediately,” Menchaca said, unlike the mayor’s proposed Brooklyn-Queens Streetcar, which he would not support as currently proposed. The funding model for the project assumes rising property values due to the streetcar, but the waterfront area is already in the midst of a development boom.

“There’s a lot more that we have to scrutinize around the kind of efforts, through its funding mechanism, that are really going to drive gentrification forward,” Menchaca said of the streetcar. “You’re hearing that from every corner of this neighborhood.”

“I’d rather be focused…[on] things we can do today to improve the lives of our community,” he said. “We’re talking about things that the community is asking for.”

On Third Avenue, meanwhile, Menchaca wants DOT to turn its attention to redesigning the poorly-lit speedway that divides residential Sunset Park from its industrial waterfront. “Third Avenue under the Gowanus Expressway might as well be an expressway itself,” he said.

Two small safety projects are underway on Third Avenue at 36th Street and 43rd Street, where the city is installing curb extensions and other pedestrian improvements.

Menchaca said DOT should begin the public process of extending those efforts the length of Third Avenue under the BQE. “One of the great things about Vision Zero when we were at the infancy of it was having community conversations,” he said. “The folks that are actually crossing Third Avenue should actually be designing Third Avenue, but with the Vision Zero attention.”

  • kevd

    “Nine MTA express bus routes pass by the neighborhood, without stopping, on the way to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.”

    A pretty damning indictment of MTA indifference.

  • bolwerk

    Yet also the point of express buses. :-

  • kevd

    yeah, I guess it isn’t “neglect” or “indifference” its “intentionally avoiding”
    There should be a local bus from Red Hook to Fulton St in Manhattan via the tunnel. then the 60 somethings on the express bus won’t have to clutch their pearls, or their NY Posts.

  • bolwerk

    I might have said malice!

  • GreenWoodHeights

    The MTA prefers to have their “premium” service bypass lots of communities that are wholly reliant on lousy local bus service. This is true for express buses, LIRR and MNR. City reps on the MTA board should really fight to change that.

    Similarly, several years back BK CB7 pushed to have at least some express buses passing through the district stick to Prospect Expressway rather than through the neighborhood. Having the bus actually make a stop didn’t even seem to be considered.

    Also related, the recent anti-BQX documentary had Red Hook residents dismiss the streetcar, insinuating that the current buses and Smith St stop offer fine transit service. The BQX may not be what the neighborhood needs, but those against it aren’t painting a consistent picture. Menchaca (and Lander?) would do well to call for a Red Hook transportation study to figure out what best serves the needs of the residents.

  • bolwerk

    Here’s a way to study it: build a smaller streetcar line and study its efficacy. Lander appears to be against all surface rail, so don’t expect help from him.

    Though I’d think any streetcar network that doesn’t include using an East River bridge is probably selling the idea short.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    This makes a lot of sense. Red Hook is very, very close to Lower Manhattan and not even that far from Midtown if you use the Battery Tunnel. Makes no sense that residents should be encouraged to drive to take advantage of it.

  • Some Asshole

    I don’t know if they still do this, but on times when I took the first BM1 back to Brooklyn in the mid-morning, those buses would go down Hamilton when the express lanes were still pointed towards Manhattan.

  • dpecs

    Having biked relatively regularly along 3rd Avenue, especially north of 36th Street, this is a very welcome change — it is definitely a speedway under the BQE, and with cars going at speed there’s really no way to take the lane, so you’re basically stuck in the parking lane with really no protection at all

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