New York City can now move ahead with a planned busway on 14th Street, after a group of Manhattan homeowners failed to convince a judge that the planned street design should be permanently halted.

The lawsuit, brought by West Village resident Arthur Schwartz on behalf of several block associations, was filed just ahead of the project's expected implementation in July. The plaintiffs argued that the city had not undertaken a sufficient environmental review of the vehicle restrictions, which they claimed would cause “horrific traffic jams" on residential side streets while contributing to more pollution. The suit also demanded the removal of 12th and 13th Street bike lanes.

Shortly after, New York State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower issued a temporary restraining order on the redesign—postponing the long-awaited transit project, and adding a combined 8,654 commuting hours for New Yorkers last month, according to advocates.

That restraining order has now been lifted, and the city is free to resume the project. According to Rakower, the Department of Transportation "went to great lengths to describe the consideration that went into the analysis, considering pedestrian deaths, dangerous intersections and not just the speed of the bus that is going to traverse 14th Street."


The city's 18-month pilot program, which has broad support from transit advocates, will restrict private through traffic in both directions between 3rd and 9th Avenues, in order to reduce heavy congestion on the corridor and speed up the notoriously slow 14th Street buses. Paired with the recent arrival of Select Bus Service in the area, the city estimates that bus speeds will improve by as much as 30 percent for 27,000 daily riders.

"We've argued all along that what the city is doing on 14th Street in prioritizing bus traffic and passengers is fully authorized," Marco Conner of Transportation Alternatives told Gothamist. "We called the lawsuit by Arthur Schwartz 'frivolous.' This shows the city has a mandate to prioritize the safety and the efficient moving of New Yorkers."

According to city officials, the busway will go into effect on August 12th. Following the hearing, Schwartz said he was still deciding whether to appeal the decision.

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