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L train shutdown alternatives won’t include a car-free 14th Street

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DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg shut down the prospect of closing the thoroughfare to private cars

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As the impending L train shutdown gets ever-closer, city officials are still sorting out how to accommodate displaced L riders for the duration of the 15-month cessation of service. A wide range of suggestions have been pitched—including some outlandish ones like a gondola that connects Brooklyn and Manhattan or an E train extension past World Trade Center and into Brooklyn. But a more reasonable proposal includes making 14th Street a car-free zone so buses and bikes could pass through with ease.

Though it has garnered support, at least one influential person—DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg—is not on board with that idea. During a speech on Thursday, she noted that 14th Street will not become a transit- and bike-only route during the L train shutdown, reports Streetsblog.

While she didn’t rule out making parts of 14th Street off-limits to private vehicles during designated times of the day, she stressed that the DOT is seeking a “very balanced plan” that takes all methods of public and private transportation into consideration.

“[T]here may be parts of 14th Street at certain times of day we’re going to have bus-only access, but it’s not going to be no cars, no loading, that’s not our plan,” Trottenberg said.

But as Streetsblog’s David Meyer notes, this could have disastrous consequences for the streets surrounding 14th; “without a clear path on 14th Street, buses will crawl, leading more people to opt for cabs and personal cars and swamping other crosstown streets,” Meyer writes.

And transit advocates have argued that transit alternatives need to be locked down sooner rather than later, in order to give New Yorkers who rely on the L time to prepare for whatever horrors may come as a result of the shutdown. It’s due to start in April 2019—so the clock is ticking.