As we have argued since the first announcement of the L Train tunnel repair plans, thanks to innovative, out of the box thinking by Governor Cuomo and his team of experts, there is a much more intelligent method for the Canarsie Tunnel repairs that keeps the L train running and that does not disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn and lower Manhattan commuters, residents and businesses that would have been devastated by the MTA/DOT Plan. Coupled with new technology, the tried and true method of either nights and weekends only or closing one tube at a time (both things that had been successfully done with other NYC Tunnel repairs) had always seemed the better, intelligent and more considerate all around approach.
However, as we feared from the outset, it now appears that there is a lot of noise by outside interests to keep the 14th Street Alternative Service Plan, as well as newly installed protected bicycle lanes, permanently in place, despite the elimination of their underlying justification. DOT Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, appears hell bent on staying the course, despite her assurances that all the changes were “temporary,” which had also given her cover to argue that as such none of the normal review and approvals were necessary.
We now look to our elected officials and local Community Boards to hold Trottenberg and Byford to their words that all the changes to 14th Street, as well as the protected bike lanes on 12th Street and 13th Street, along with bus route changes that eliminated the 14th Street and Sixth Avenue bus-stop and its 14th Street crosstown route, etc., etc., be rolled back immediately—as the entire premise upon which the need for them was argued has been rendered moot.
We will not tolerate doublespeak from Trottenberg and Byford, or anyone else for that matter, who openly advocated for their permanence but promised, at every juncture, that it would be up to the downtown community (not nonresident interlopers) to decide whether to keep them. Our electeds were just handed a gift by the Governor, a second bite at the apple, if you will. This time around, however, we expect them to forcefully advocate for the sanctity and safety of the neighborhoods and communities that they represent and not repeat the mistake of accepting the representations of DOT and MTA that there was no other choice, as was done throughout the “so-called” public outreach process.
If not for the L train shutdown none of this would have been forced upon us. Common sense dictates that absent the shutdown premise, all these burdensome changes have been rendered moot and should be immediately restored back to the way it was. The premature implementation of aspects of the 14th Street ASP and installation of protected bicycle lanes on the side streets has choked and disfigured our neighborhoods and communities, threatened the health and safety of its residents and cast a blight on the aesthetic of our streetscapes.
As a businessman and taxpayer, I cannot help but be appalled at all the financial waste committed by DOT/MTA to effect all these changes well before they were needed; something we also tried to postpone but failed to accomplish because no one in power would say “NO.”
My Credits: West Village resident, Board Member Cambridge Owners Corp and A Founder of the 14th Street Coalition.
—David R. Marcus, CPA, MBA, JD