Take a Look and Vote on the New Proposals for a Car-Free 42nd Street

A group of planners and architects is advocating for 42nd Street to be transformed into a car-free street with light rail. Image via Vision42 [PDF]
One of the four final design concepts for transforming 42nd Street into a car-free street with light rail. Image via Vision42 [PDF]

For nearly 15 years, a group of architects and planners who go under the banner of Vision42 have advocated for a car-free 42nd Street with light rail and expanded pedestrian space [PDF]. Hoping to catch the interest of the de Blasio administration, last spring the group launched a competition seeking conceptual designs for a re-imagined 42nd Street. Now the four finalists are up for a public vote.

Vision42 received 123 submissions from around the world in a contest run by The Architect’s Paper. A panel of judges narrowed the field to four final entries. Each won a $3,000 prize funded by a grant from the New York Community Trust, and now you can vote online for your favorite design concept.

Another conceptual design extends the greenery of Bryant Park out onto 42nd Street. Image via Vision42 [PDF]
Another conceptual design extends the greenery of Bryant Park out onto 42nd Street. Image via Vision42 [PDF]

The goal is to breathe new life into a plan that yet to win over policymakers. “Our difficulty in the past has been that Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t like light rail,” said Roxanne Warren, an architect who chairs Vision42. The Bloomberg administration did propose a major busway and pedestrian space on 34th Street, another marquee crosstown route, but that plan was significantly scaled back under pressure from nearby property owners.

“Surface public transit really doesn’t work unless you make the determination — it’s politically tricky for sure — but you have to make the decision to give priority to public transit over private driving,” Warren said. “It’s both about the quality of urban space and the fact that we are overwhelmed by motor vehicles.”

Another plan proposes a center-running bikeway along 42nd Street. Image via Vision42 [PDF]
Another plan proposes a center-running bikeway along 42nd Street in addition to curb-running rail. Image via Vision42 [PDF]

“The reason that we picked 42nd Street is that it goes river to river, and it’s a straight shot for public transportation. And we think that public transportation should be prioritized over private automobiles,” Warren said. “It’s a nightmare getting along 42nd Street.”

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