Little Italy Residents Propose Alternate Shuttle Bus Route as L-Train Shutdown Looms

Posted on: August 9th, 2018 at 5:00 am by

One need only stroll down the five blocks of Kenmare Street – from the Bowery to its terminus at Lafayette – to understand the traffic clusterfuck. Pretty much any time of day, any day of the week. Several factors contribute to car congestion – as an extension of Delancey Street, it’s the on/off ramp to the Williamsburg Bridge; there are umpteen hotels and nightclubs nearby; and the roadway is four (small) lanes across.

So, if the city has its way during the 15-month L train shutdown starting in April 2019, a herd of shuttle buses will roll through this narrow thoroughfare to transport passengers (approximately 50 per hour). Needless to say, some residents and business owners in the immediate vicinity are incensed.

Department of Transportation last month presented its plan to Community Board 2. Below is a recap from The Villager:

Kenmare St. currently runs two-way with two travel lanes, plus two lanes that are used for travel or parking. To add a bus lane, D.O.T. is proposing two possible options. One would include two traffic lanes — with one lane going in each direction — and one bus lane, plus a parking or loading lane on the north side. The second option would scrap eastbound traffic entirely, maintaining a lane for travel or parking on the street’s south side. A separate change would restrict left turns from Lafayette St. onto Kenmare, and add pedestrian space at Petrosino Square, in response to voiced concerns that traffic turning from Lafayette onto Kenmare often veers into the westbound lane to make the sharp turn more easily.

One-third of vehicles on Kenmare St. are going to or coming from the Holland Tunnel, with a majority of the traffic heading westbound, according to D.O.T. The department predicts HOV-3 (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. — another part of the L shutdown mitigation plan — would cut traffic by 75 percent on Kenmare St.

Small business owners are also concerned the added traffic on Kenmare would make it more difficult to get deliveries and negatively impact them.

The Kenmare Little Italy Loop Coalition (KLILC) recently formed as a result of this traffic proposal. They maintain that implementing these routes would not only affect quality-of-life for residents, but hog the streets, starving businesses of deliveries. It also interferes with the services of fire houses in the immediate vicinity.

KLILC came up with an alternate proposal that instead follows existing bus routes, and designates Delancey-Allen-East Houston-Lafayette as the path. The group notes that each of those streets is wider than Kenmare (and less residential), can accommodate the traffic volume, and is closer to subway connections. The group has already met with reps from the DOT, MTA, and various elected officials to pitch the plan. And submitted it to CB2 on numerous occasions, according to leadership.

“There has never been an answer given to the question asked as to ‘were any other streets for this part of the bus route ever considered?’” a spokesperson tells us. “It seems like the planners saw a straight line west and went for it. The route from wider  delancey st. onto narrower kenmare st. is considered insane by all who live/work here.”

You can submit your comments to MTA by following this link.

It seems like an uphill battle, though…

The L Train apocalypse shutdown begins at the end of next April; new street markings are expected sometime in November.

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