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Eric Adams

The Fifth Ave. Redesign is Going on Five Years Delayed 

Mayor Adams on Monday announced yet another round of community engagement and more "visioning" processes for the long-awaited redesign of Fifth Avenue — a process that comes after the previous administration spent two years doing just that.

The mayor announced more community engagement for Fifth Avenue, despite last year touting a design that was presented by the local business group two years ago.

It’s déja vu all over again

Mayor Adams on Monday announced yet another round of community engagement and more "visioning" for the long-awaited redesign of Fifth Avenue — a process that comes after the previous administration spent two years doing just that.

After the prior administration bailed on its initial (albeit watered down) plans to install a full-fledged car-free busway on the corridor, Adams in December 2022 unveiled his own “major new visioning process to reimagine Fifth Avenue." That announcement included plans to “identify and implement early action improvements” in 2023 — which has less than two months left. 

"Last year, the mayor promised improvements in 2023, but the clock is ticking,” said Samir Lavingia, a member of Community Board 5 who spoke to Streetsblog in a personal capacity.

The de Blasio administration iteration of a Fifth Avenue redesign, between 57th and 34th streets, had swapped out the current three southbound travel lanes for a busway with only a pick-up and drop-off lane for cars, plus a protected bike lane and expanded pedestrian space. 

But before leaving office, ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio scaled down the project in deference to luxury retailers along the strip — it would no longer feature a car-free busway — and also punted that watered-down redesign to his successor. 

Now, the city says it will wait until the middle of next year to release a so-called comprehensive plan, with an actual design not unveiled until 2025 — half a decade since a redesign was first announced. This comes despite the fact that Manhattan’s Community Board 5 had already approved of a design in 2021. 

As part of the new website and processes revealed on Monday, the city launched a two- to three-minute survey that will remain open through February. It asks users to consider the “tradeoffs” of taking space away from cars. 

“Making transportation changes to Fifth Avenue involves tradeoffs because physical space is limited. If we were to reduce the number of lanes for vehicles on Fifth Avenue, which transportation change would you most like to see replace them?” the questionnaire asks.

And the options include protected bike lanes, improved dedicated bus lanes, larger sidewalks, and “I do not think the city should reduce the number of vehicle lanes on Fifth Avenue in order to make these changes.” (Respondents can only choose two answers to that question, meaning they can't select better buses, safer cycling and more space for pedestrians.)

Neither the Department of Transportation nor City Hall responded to requests for comment. 

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