CB3 Thwarts DOT Plan to Route Williamsburg Bridge Traffic onto Norfolk Street
The Department of Transportation was rebuffed by the community last week for its proposal to solve traffic bottleneck issues at Grand and Clinton Streets, at the mouth of the Williamsburg Bridge. The city agency presented its latest plans – an ongoing process for the better part of a decade – to the Community Board 3 transportation committee and was met with opposition almost immediately.
Held over Zoom, agency spokesperson Carl Sundstrom presented the controversial pitch – to redirect congested bridge traffic westward to Norfolk Street, where two lanes of traffic, between Broome and Delancey, would be reinstated. Essentially, enabling the deactivation of the right turn from Grand onto Clinton.
However, doing so would, as committee vice chair Michelle Kuppersmith noted, result in a probable “build it, they will come” flood of cars. In fact, the city admitted that the volume of cars to the corridor would increase some 13-percent if the plan carried.
“Because this plan is more efficient in moving traffic, more traffic will be drawn to the route. It’s still expected that Norfolk will be able to handle all this vehicle traffic once it’s up to two lanes,” said Sundstrom.
According to the DOT’s own study, about 760 cars use Clinton Street between Grand and Delancey per day, as opposed to 370 on Norfolk between Broome and Delancey. Adding a lane to Norfolk would slightly decrease the load on Clinton but double that of Norfolk.
This volume surge metric pretty much sank the proposition. Both CB3 and members of the public voiced opposition during the meeting, stating that “kicking the can” a couple blocks amounted to pushing the problem at the expense of more cars. And how two lanes of Norfolk Street might be a nice sound byte, but in reality, double-parking and truck deliveries would likely reduce the space.
(Ironically, as contributor to congestion in the vicinity, even Essex Crossing, through its spokesperson, is critical of this traffic shift to Norfolk Street.)
In the years since discussions began about finding a solution to this pinch point, Essex Crossing came on line, debuting six buildings along this highly populated corridor. And with another thirty-story development on the way, the collective residential and commercial density – double-parking, loading/unloading trucks – would certainly challenge this plan.