An hour after the Department of Transportation previewed Manhattan's 14th Street busway, which would restrict vehicular traffic and prioritize mass transit, a judge blocked the redesign once again, after an appeal from community groups.
Transportation spokesperson Scott Gastel confirmed that a judge had temporarily halted their plans and they would not begin enforcing the new rules on Monday as planned. It wasn't immediately clear when both parties were due back in court. NY1 first reported the change in plan.
The busway was stopped in late June, after a judge issued a temporary restraining order ahead of its July 1 debut;. The TRO was lifted on Wednesday, and the DOT was ready to unveil the busway on Monday.
The agency even sent staffers to 14th Street to alert drivers about the impending changes on Friday:
DOT staff were out this morning reminding drivers about new 14th St regulations going into effect on 8/12:
6AM-10PM Every Day: Buses & trucks only btn 9th-3rd Aves. All other vehicles may make local trips, but must turn at the next available right.
More: https://t.co/gsIvfVszf2 pic.twitter.com/cyXnGk7Ip1
— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) August 9, 2019
The "Transit & Truck Priority" plan is set to be an 18-month program, limiting private through traffic between 3rd and 9th Avenues in both directions. By speeding up M14 buses along on the notoriously congested 14th Street, the city hopes bus speeds will increase by up to 30 percent for nearly 30,000 daily riders.
Here's the specific appeal from community groups opposed to the 14th St. busway
- did judge err in finding city took "hard look," even if there was no public comment or environmental study
- is the 6am-10pm enforcement "arbitrary and capricious" without a study pic.twitter.com/pOgtNjqagf
— Dan Rivoli (@danrivoli) August 9, 2019
Opposition from community groups in West Village, Chelsea and Flatiron have argued that traffic would clog side streets.
"For every day that the 14th Street busway is on hold, M14 rush hour commuters lose two weeks worth of time that they will never recover. Time wasted stuck behind cars in stalled traffic is time away from family, friends, work, and New York's civic life," Riders Alliance spokesperson Danny Pearlstein said in a statement.
"The irreparable harm to tens of thousands of transit riders that comes of obstructing badly needed bus service improvements mounts with every single day of self-serving litigation from wealthy and powerful precincts surrounding 14th Street," Pearlstein added.
Thomas DeVito, the senior director of advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, called the delay "a bad-faith effort to preserve a cars-first status quo, and frankly, a waste of time."
"This tiresome, tedious effort to circumvent the democratic process delays tangible improvements to the commutes of tens of thousands of working New Yorkers," DeVito said in a statement. "It's despicable, and we're not going to accept it."
Reporting by Gwynne Hogan