While motorists will be losing a lane, bicyclists will gain one on West Street. At a Community Board 1 meeting Wednesday night, representatives from the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) said the project will add a raised two-lane bike path on the east side of the street.
The project will also include a planned buffer using stripping lines on the street to help keep bicyclists safer. Along with the path, the project will upgrade the pavement on the street, which should help with flooding and create less stormwater runoff.
“This is feasible to do from a traffic engineering standpoint,” Linda Reardon, a consultant for DDC, told board members. “It will not result in any additional traffic delays.”
Many in the Greenpoint community who are active in the cycling community praised the plan, but some still worried about the impact on the neighborhood.
One resident asked how many parking spots will be eliminated to make way for the dual bike lanes on the east side of the street. When Reardon said that roughly 80 parking spots would no longer be available, some members of the community board groaned in disapproval.
However, Reardon said DDC did a study of the area and is confident it will be able to create new spots that will outnumber the lost spaces by utilizing industrial areas around West Street.
Reardon added that the street currently does not meet city standards for use as a two-lane street, and even the sidewalks ire too small. She said that the water main is from the 1800's and the sewage system is in need of repairs. In other words, the street is in need of an upgrade regardless.
Reardon went on to say that the study found that the area doesn't need any additional traffic lights either because traffic is very light on West Street, however that could change with future studies.
Barbara Vetell, of the Greenpoint West Street Block Association, criticized DDC for bringing in an outside consultant for the projects, saying the agency and their consultants are out of touch with the community. “You need to be there,” she said.
Vetell admitted that she, “was against this, but it's inevitable.” So, at the Community Board 1 meeting, she asked the DDC to keep the community informed and to focus on real issues.
“There are a lot of things that really need to be done here,” she said, mentioning the issue of speeding cars. Vetell said the area needs traffic lights, and called the area around West street “a speedway.”
The project is underway, however the construction plans won’t be done and ready for approval until late 2013.