The Commute: Proof That NYC DOT’s Mission Is To Increase Traffic Congestion

The Commute: Proof That NYC DOT’s Mission Is To Increase Traffic Congestion
<i>Source: Google Maps</i>
Source: Google Maps

Editor’s note: Portions of this article were significantly changed due to factual errors that have since been corrected. The premise behind those errors remain in strikeout as a matter of transparency, while some commentary has been deleted or changed. We regret the error.

THE COMMUTE: The latest harebrained scheme by the Department of Transportation (DOT) is to convert Sheepshead Bay Road between Jerome Avenue and Voorhies Avenue into a one-way northbound street between East 15th Street and Jerome Avenue, as well as closing off East 15th Street between Sheepshead Bay Road and Avenue Z to traffic. (The photo above is my alternative proposal to reduce congestion.)

The DOT’s proposal would result in B36 passengers having to walk a block to Avenue Z to access the subway. Currently they board and disembark from the bus in front of the station. Passengers of the B49 bus would also have to walk at least an extra block to the Brighton line if northbound service is rerouted back to Sheepshead Bay Road. It is not clear what would happen to the southbound B49. It would either have to endure a long and costly detour from East 16th Street back to Ocean Avenue before entering Manhattan Beach, or the MTA could decide to revert back to the pre-1978 routing of skipping the Sheepshead Bay Road train station entirely when the B1 used to serve it. Any which way you look at it, bus travel would become more difficult. DOT’s proposal would eliminate the possibility of the B49 northbound returning to Sheepshead Bay Road if it were to be made a one-way northbound corridor, as I have suggested.

As the Bay News reported, Community Board 15 (CB15) is not in favor of the DOT’s plans.

Traffic Is A Problem Near The Station

Traffic being a problem near the station, however, is due to the illegal parking of green taxis in front of the station and the lack of enforcement of “No Parking” regulations all along Sheepshead Bay Road. The DOT’s plan is definitely not the way to relieve the traffic congestion problem. It will only make traffic on Avenue Z between East 15th Street and East 17th Street worse. Where is the traffic data that shows this is a good idea? The DOT does not have to provide any, because they can do whatever they please by merely by saying ‘trust us, we are the experts.’

I offered my solution to relieve Sheepshead Bay Road traffic congestion last year but it fell on deaf ears. Not a single local elected official pushed it. That plan is to extend East 16th Street southbound between Sheepshead Bay Road and Voorhies Avenue and to convert Sheepshead Bay Road to one-way northbound. See photo above.

The only reason East 16th Street does not exist for the block south of Sheepshead Bay Road is because of a logistical error committed while laying the grid out, back when the area doubled as the site of the Manhattan Beach railroad. The layout prevented a street from being added when the grid system was laid out, and no one thought to add it later.

The current plan by the site’s developer is to extend East 16th Street by making it a private access roadway, which the DOT has not objected to. One of our elected officials promised me months ago that he would obtain and provide me with a copy of the transportation study prepared by the developer showing that traffic will not be significantly affected without the construction of a new street. I am still waiting. A through street is not inconsistent with a private roadway. They could both be built if the city insisted on it.

No Public Accountability

We have been waiting for more than 10 years for the removal of the much hated bicycle path to nowhere along Oriental Boulevard, which was installed by a prior DOT commissioner without community consultation. The DOT has been studying relocating the bike lane to Shore Boulevard, as I and local neighborhood groups suggested more than three years ago. How many more years will it take until they make a decision? It is a no-brainer. But it is not obvious to the “brains” at the DOT. The path is already there in the form of a dual sidewalk and only needs some signage.

Shore Boulevard, site of a proposed bike lane. Photo by George Burshteyn
Shore Boulevard, site of a proposed bike lane. Photo by George Burshteyn

The DOT has also been studying a needed left turn signal at Coney Island Avenue southbound at Guider Avenue. It was proposed by CB15 and initially rejected because a sliver of parkland would have to be obtained in order to maintain two through lanes on Coney Island Avenue. In the nine years in which they have been studying it, they could have obtained the land if they tried. The DOT did not try because they have no intentions of wanting to reduce traffic congestion. They are under the misguided impression that if they make driving inconvenient enough, the cars will just disappear. This is evident in their proposal for Sheepshead Bay Road.

Why should it take nine or 10 years for the DOT to study real transportation improvements, but they can make ridiculous suggestions in the blink of an eye? Most likely the Sheepshead Bay Road proposal will never come to pass due to the amount of criticism it has received. No solutions to reduce traffic congestion will be implemented either without the intervention of our elected officials, who have thus far remained silent.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Author’s note: I apologize for the errors which were due to the map appearing in the Bay News showing DOT’s proposal. The arrow showing southbound traffic on SBR was in an almost invisible white when all the other arrows are in yellow. Also, their headline was very misleading stating “One-way? No Way.” Although the proposal is only to make two short blocks of SBR one-way, the implication by that headline was of a more extensive change.

Corrections made at 3:21pm on the day of publication.

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work. Their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at]sheepsheadbites [dot] com.