After months of uncertainty, the city has agreed to ban most cars from 14th Street from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week to make way for a bus-only corridor to accommodate thousands of displaced commuters during the 15-month L train shutdown.
The plan was first reported by the Daily News; a DOT official has also confirmed with Gothamist that from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, one lane of the Williamsburg Bridge will be restricted to vehicles with three or more passengers. There will be no dedicated bus lane.
The DOT's decision is intended as a compromise between vocal Brooklyn commuters who'd hoped for a permanent busway and bridge restrictions during the shutdown, and Manhattan drivers who vehemently opposed that idea. "This plan takes into account a balance of mobility for all while accounting for local access," a DOT official told Gothamist.
A representative with the L Train Coalition, which advocated for a 24/7 ban on cars, said the 14th Street plan seems like "a reasonable compromise," and that they were looking forward to learning more about it.
The Rider's Alliance also praised the decision in a statement, saying that the 17-hour busway would serve as a "robust replacement for the crowded L train morning, noon, and night alike. L riders will have transit they can rely on. And residents along the L can count on riders to use transit rather than cause congestion and pollution by taking cars, taxis, and for-hire vehicles."
Members of the 14th Street Coalition, whose founding member called for "a plan that's not so focused on transporting commuters," did not respond to our request for comment.
According to the Daily News, the city will continue to allow Manhattan residents to use 14th street for pickups and drop offs, and it remains unclear how the busway and the HOV lane restrictions will be enforced. A DOT representative did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Court documents viewed by the Daily News also show that the DOT now plans to install two one-way bike paths on 12th Street and 13th Street, instead of one two-way path on 13th Street, as originally planned. The change was made so that more parking spots on 13th Street could be preserved, according to officials.
As it stands, the joint mitigation plan released by the MTA and DOT calls for a 14th Street busway and Williamsburg Bridge HOV-restrictions for most of the day, in addition to new bike lanes in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the creation of a new bus network in both boroughs, and beefed up ferry service between the boroughs.
The L train shutdown, which will bring a complete stoppage of service between Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn and 8th Avenue in Manhattan, is just over nine months away. Get excited!