DOT Scores TIGER Grants for Vision Zero and Rockaways Transpo Study

City Hall and Senator Charles Schumer announced yesterday that NYC DOT had secured a $25 million federal grant for street safety and greenway projects in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Notably, the press release announcing the funding hailed street design improvements as a “critical” component of the city’s Vision Zero safety agenda. In addition, a separate $1.4 million federal grant will fund a transportation study for the Rockaways.

A planted concrete median extension at Fourth Avenue and 45th Street will be funded in part by a federal TIGER grant. Rendering: NYC DOT [PDF]
The awards are from US DOT’s competitive TIGER program, which doesn’t always distribute funds to New York City. While the city nabbed two awards from the program this year and has received awards from the program in the past, all three of New York’s TIGER applications were rejected last year.

The $25 million grant comes on top of $21.2 million in federal highway safety funds distributed by the state earlier this year to similar projects. These grants can supplement dollars from the city’s vast capital budget, which also funds DOT’s bike and pedestrian programs.

The TIGER grant will help support a pedestrian safety redesign near the Metro-North station at Park Avenue and 125th Street in Harlem, where DOT is planning wider sidewalks and narrower car lanes on Park Avenue, as well as curb extensions at 124th, 125th and 126th Streets. It will also fund the capital construction of a road diet initially installed with paint and flexible posts on two sections of Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, from 8th to 18th Streets in Park Slope and from 33rd to 52nd Streets in Sunset Park. Extensions of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway will also get a boost from the grant, one near the Gowanus Canal and another in Bay Ridge, where wider sidewalks and a two-way protected bike path on Hamilton Avenue will connect to the existing greenway near Owl’s Head Park.

The TIGER grant will also support eight Safe Routes to School projects:

  • PS 154 Harriet Tubman School in Harlem will receive three curb extensions and six pedestrian islands
  • PS 54 in Woodhaven, Queens will receive four curb extensions and four pedestrian islands
  • PS 239 in Ridgewood, Queens will have a nearby complex intersection simplified and receive expanded pedestrian islands and sidewalks
  • PS 199 Maurice Fitzgerald School in Long Island City, Queens will receive five curb extensions and two pedestrian islands
  • PS 92 Harry T. Stewart in Corona, Queens will receive six curb extensions and four pedestrian islands
  • PS 13 Clement C. Moore in Flushing, Queens will receive seven curb extensions and one pedestrian island
  • Our Lady’s Catholic Academy in South Ozone Park, Queens will receive five curb extensions and three pedestrian islands
  • Our Lady’s Queen of Peace School in New Dorp, Staten Island will have a nearby complex intersection simplified and receive four curb extensions, a plaza, and improved traffic channelization.

While the TIGER funds will help get these safety projects through the pipeline faster, the more significant news may simply be that City Hall chose to trumpet these street redesigns as an integral part of Vision Zero. The de Blasio administration devoted most of its traffic safety energy earlier this year to Albany legislation, and it paid off with some big wins. It’s a good sign that the mayor is making street redesigns part of his message on a signature issue. Here’s the de Blasio quote from yesterday’s press release:

“This investment will save lives. It means better designed streets and targeted initiatives that will help us change behaviors like speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians. We are proud to have strong federal partners like Senator Schumer, Secretary Foxx and the Obama Administration as we work to protect our communities and make Vision Zero a reality. From children near our schools school to seniors on the streets of their neighborhoods, we will have more tools than ever to protect our people,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

A separate $1.4 million TIGER grant will fund a transportation study of the Rockaways by NYC DOT in coordination with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. According to Schumer’s release, the study “will identify ways to improve street safety, pedestrian and transit mobility.”

There are a number of live transportation issues in the area, including Select Bus Service on Cross Bay Boulevard, soon-to-expire ferry service, and the question of whether to restore rail service on the Rockaway Beach line or turn it into an elevated greenway. Local students working with the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance have also suggested traffic calming on Rockaway Freeway that could include more space for pedestrians and a dedicated bike path. The alliance has scheduled workshops on the proposal for September 23 and September 30.

This post has been updated with additional information from DOT about the TIGER-funded projects.

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