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Prospect Heights

Thursday’s Headlines: Victory on Underhill Edition

Mayor Adams has decided to allow the agency to move forward with its plans to improve safety by finishing the Underhill Avenue bike boulevard. Plus other news.

Main photo: Dave Colon|

Victory!

Call it V-U Day.

After ordering the Department of Transportation to pause work on a popular project to conduct more "community outreach," Mayor Adams has decided to allow the agency to improve safety by finishing the Underhill Avenue bike boulevard.

The news came from DOT spokesman Vin Barone at around 7 p.m. last night:

"Sharing an update on Underhill Avenue," he wrote. "DOT is moving forward to complete the project. Prep work is beginning tonight [Wednesday night]."

Barone did not address the nearly unprecedented halt in the project, which had already been the subject of two years of community outreach before Hizzoner halted it, citing unspecified concern over outsiders to "the community" who were trying "to dictate what is going to happen on a local level." Multiple surveys by his own DOT and local advocates made it clear that the mayor's concern was misguided, but he ordered more outreach anyway.

Barone didn't address the controversy, but alluded to it: "With this project, DOT will continue the work we’re doing across the city to keep New Yorkers safe from traffic violence. Following a thorough community engagement process, it is clear the community strongly supports this work on Underhill Avenue, which will better protect everyone on the corridor — whether you’re biking, driving, or walking.”

The agency did say that its additional outreach indeed showed strong support for the project.

As such, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council — which strongly supports the project — said it hoped this one-time pause of a popular project would be the exception rather than the rule going forward.

“We’re relieved that Mayor Adams plans to complete these improvements instead of rolling them back,” said Gib Veconi, the group's chairman. “Pausing a street safety initiative that was nearly complete has had a chilling effect on DOT’s introducing similar projects across the city, so we hope that these kinds of extraordinary City Hall interventions are now over. The administration must fully commit to street safety.”

The DOT said that all that's left are small sections of painting lines, some paint in the bike lane plus gravel-colored paint in a mid-block diverter and a sidewalk extension.

We'll obviously be on Underhill today to gloat in celebration that the mayor caved show complete respect for DOT's desire to make roadways safer with a popular and successful bike boulevard design.

Only the Daily News covered the news, but its headline was absurd, claiming the project is "controversial," which it actually is not, given the three years of positive outreach and the prior bike boulevards in multiple boroughs.

In other news:

  • Port Authority honcho Rick Cotton talked to NY1 about defaced and covered plates (it's at roughly 6:30 in this link).
  • Sorry, Apple fanboys, but the computer maker is bailing on making cars. (NPR)
  • It's important for policy makers to "pre-bunk" opposition to bike lanes — because they end up being popular! (Road.cc)
  • We're not sure why Gothamist angled a story about congestion pricing cameras being installed; those cameras started going up months ago (and everyone covered it). The Daily News and amNY played the story better.
  • The Post had more about the two Brooklynites killed in separate crashes on Tuesday.
  • The Times finally got around to covering the death of journalist Fazil Khan, who was killed in a fire sparked by a lithium-ion battery last week.
  • Speaking of batteries, the City Council tightened some rules about their sale. (Gothamist)
  • Finally, three things from the Assignment Desk:
    • Today is February 29, which only comes along every four years. Enjoy it.
    • Supporters of congestion pricing will rally before the MTA's 6 p.m. congestion pricing toll hearing. The rally is at 5 p.m. in Bowling Green, just opposite the MTA's 2 Broadway headquarters. For more info on the MTA hearing, always go to the Streetsblog calendar.
    • If you don't have your ticket to tonight's Public Space Awards ceremony sponsored by Open Plans, you really need to click here now, and join us at 7 p.m.

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