In a last-minute appeal, a judge on Friday hit the brakes on the city’s plan to ban private car traffic from a stretch of 14th Street, NY1 reports.
A judge granted the appeal, which was filed in the state appellate court division, and halted the pilot program for the second time in two months. The decision forces the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to suspend its plans and likely move to appeal the sudden about face.
The ruling comes just three days after a judge lifted a temporary restraining order on the program and as DOT crews prepared to launch the 18-month pilot program between Third and Ninth avenues on Monday. The stalled pilot aims to block private car through traffic from the busy road to speed up bus commutes during work on the L train’s Canarsie Tunnel. Pick-ups, drop-offs, and garage access would still be permitted under the plan.
The busway was set to launch Monday at 6 a.m. It was originally planned for July 1.
A coalition of Manhattan block associations represented by lawyer and 12th Street resident Arthur Schwartz have led the legal charge against’s the city’s pilot program, arguing in a New York State Supreme Court lawsuit that the busway violates state environmental law because of a lack of analysis on how blocking cars from 14th Street will impact traffic on nearby residential side streets. New York State Supreme Court Justice Eileen Rakoff intially green-lit the pilot on Tuesday after finding that the city sufficently studied the potential impacts of limiting car traffic on 14th Street.
Thomas DeVito, Transportation Alternative’s senior director of advocacy, slammed the continued push to block the busway as “a bad-faith effort to preserve a cars-first status quo, and frankly, a waste of time.”
“This tiresome, tedious effort to circumvent the democratic process delays tangible improvements to the commutes of tens of thousands of working New Yorkers,” DeVito said in a statement. “It’s despicable, and we’re not going to accept it.”
Another livid transportation advocate, Danny Pearlstein of the Riders Alliance, said the lack of mass transit improvements on the 14th Street corridor continues to do “irreparable harm to tens of thousands of transit riders.”
“For every day that the 14th Street busway is on hold, M14 rush hour commuters lose two weeks worth of time that they will never recover,” Pearlstein said in a statement. “Time wasted stuck behind cars in stalled traffic is time away from family, friends, work, and New York’s civic life.”