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With 34th Street Design Due in Spring, CB 6 Is Ready For Busway to Fail

A rendering of the 34th Street Transitway shows how a design with a loading lane might shift to one without. Image: NYC DOT.
A rendering of the 34th Street Transitway shows how a design with a loading lane might shift to one without. Image: NYC DOT.

A preliminary design for the proposed 34th Street Transitway is due this spring, DOT said officials at a community board meeting last night.

While up until now the department has been using three different concepts of how the city's first physically separated bus lanes could be sited on 34th -- in a median, along one side of the street, or along both curbs -- the design could include elements of all three. "On each block, we're looking to see which design fits that block the best," said DOT director of transit development Eric Beaton. That preliminary design will then be plugged into a new traffic model that the department has created to study Midtown Manhattan.

The members of Community Board 6's transportation committee, which met last night to discuss the traffic study and the project's environmental review, seemed to have already made up their minds about the project, however. The committee asked DOT officials a series of questions last night, most of which assumed various forms of failure. A formal list of questions from the committee asked whether the environmental assessment would measure the economic loss of the storefronts sure to close if the rapid bus service is implemented, for example, and whether the traffic model would really include the fact that making 34th Street one-way would send drivers circling around the block.

Bob Cohen, a committee member particularly opposed to the project, suggested that rather than add a new pedestrian plaza between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, the city should build a set of underground tunnels for those on foot instead. Beaton noted that pedestrians make up a majority of those using 34th Street. "The goal isn't to move them out of the way for cars," he said.

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