A story in The New York Times suggests Mayor de Blasio can do an end run around Albany and forge a public transportation route to meet new needs with a modern streetcar line along the waterfront from Brooklyn to Queens. The line would make it easier for residents to get around Brooklyn; tie together transit starved areas such as Red Hook, Greenpoint and the Navy Yard; connect to ferry, bus and subway routes; and link Brooklyn to Queens.
The author estimates it would cost somewhere around $600,000,000 or so. Now that Brooklyn is less Manhattan-centric, do you think this is an idea whose time has come, or should we just improve existing bus and subway service?
A reader sent us the photo above with the headline “are they back?” last night. As you may recall, some of the vintage streetcars were carted off in February.
Coincidentally or not, their collector, Bob Diamond, a historic railways buff, has just finished a new report about setting up a streetcar system that would run from Red Hook to downtown Brooklyn and re-opening the unused 169-year-old subway tunnel under Atlantic Avenue that has been closed since 2010, DNAinfo reported. He has also set up a Kickstarter fund to ask for $5,000 to print up copies of the study to send to elected officials.
Do you think a streetcar from Red Hook to downtown sounds like a good plan?
Greenpoint residents called for more G train and bus service to accommodate the area’s growing population at a community forum last night about the forthcoming five-week summer suspension of the train line, the Brooklyn Eagle reported.
Longtime residents want the standard eight or 10 cars on every train instead of only four, and said the train is as crowded on weekend nights as at rush hour, perhaps because of the area’s growing young population. Others pointed out the new B-32 bus, which runs a similar route to the G train, should be extended on each end so it connects to subways in Manhattan and Queens.
The crowd booed mention of a study that said the G train is not overcrowded, and Assemblyman Joe Lentol promised to conduct his own survey. “Greenpoint is no longer the little hamlet of the past, but part of the big metropolis,” he said.
The MTA is suspending G train service between Nassau Avenue and Court Square for over a month this summer, and Greenpoint’s elected officials are holding a town hall Thursday to discuss the shutdown. The G train won’t run in Greenpoint from July 26 to September 1 because of Sandy-related repairs, according to Senator Daniel Squadron’s office. There will be a shuttle service between the affected stops.
State Senator Daniel Squadron is hosting the meeting, which takes place April 3 at 6 pm in the Polish and Slavic Center at 176 Java Street. Borough President Eric Adams, State Senator Dilan, Assembly Member Lentol and Council Member Stephen Levin are expected to attend.
Last night at Medgar Evers College, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that Atlantic Avenue is going to get safety improvements for pedestrians and cyclists as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign. The DOT will install protected bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes, and pedestrian safety measures, according to a press release.
Although no timeline was announced for the improvements, Trottenberg said Atlantic would be among the first 50 priority corridors for safety improvements. Atlantic Avenue has long been one of Brooklyn’s busiest and most dangerous streets, and over 1,400 cyclists and pedestrians were injured by drivers on the road between 2002 and 2013.
The DOT is closing some of the southbound lanes on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway at night in Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo, beginning tonight through March 29, according to an email from Community Board Two. Lane closures will happen from midnight to 5 am between Atlantic Avenue and Cadman Plaza to repair expansion joints.
One lane will be closed from 12:01 am to 1:00 am and two lanes will be closed until 5:00 am. One lane of traffic will remain open at all times.
East River Ferry service to and from Greenpoint’s India Street pier has been shut down after the ramp to the ferry collapsed suddenly into the water during this morning’s commute, The Daily News reported. Less than a minute after 10 people had crossed the ramp onto the ferry, it collapsed into the freezing East River. Shortly afterward, New York Waterways, the ferry operator, issued an alert letting customers know service to and from Greenpoint had been suspended.
“East River Ferry service to and from the Greenpoint Pier is suspended until further notice as we continue to assess the cause of a gangway that detached this morning,” the company wrote in a statement to the newspaper. “A team of engineers will be sent to investigate the cause and repairs will be made as soon as possible.”
The aging trolley cars parked behind Fairway on Van Brunt Street that were once part of a plan to revive trolley car service in Brooklyn starting with Red Hook were dragged away by a developer last night, according to Gothamist. Bob Diamond, who collected the trolleys and parked them in Red Hook (he also famously discovered the Atlantic Avenue tunnel), sent photos to Gothamist and said that neighborhood developer Greg O’Connell arranged to have them removed.
Gothamist reports conflicting rumors about whether the cars are destined for a scrap yard upstate or the Trolley Museum of New York in Kingston.
In the early ’80s, Diamond formed the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association and acquired a fleet of 16 early 20th-century trolleys, hoping to revive trolley service between downtown Brooklyn and Red Hook. Although the DOT pulled support for Diamond’s project in 2003, local groups have endorsed the plan in the last year, and he is hopeful that de Blasio will be more open than Bloomberg to the streetcar service.
Update: The O’Connell Organization donated three cars on its property to the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, Conn., according to a press release we received via email tonight.
Greenpoint City Council member Steve Levin penned a letter yesterday to incoming Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg demanding “traffic calming” measures on McGuinness Boulevard, where a woman was killed while walking last week. He suggested installing speed cameras around P.S. 34, following a state law passed last year allowing up to 20 speed cameras in a school zone.
A school zone stretches across nearly a mile of McGuinness from Greenpoint Avenue to the BQE, qualifying it for cameras, Streetsblog points out. Nearly two-thirds of all drivers exceed the road’s speed limit of 30 miles per hour, hurtling at speeds as high as 47 miles per hour, according to a study by the McGuinness Boulevard Working Group.
Levin also wants to create a neighborhood slow zone around P.S. 34, install left-hand turn signals, countdown clocks at cross walks and other traffic calming measures to prevent future crashes. His letter comes in the wake of 32-year-old Nicole Detweiler’s death, who was struck and killed December 29 by a BMW and a box truck.
Mayor Bloomberg announced Friday that the East River Ferry, which connects the Brooklyn Waterfront to Long Island City, Lower Manhattan and Midtown Manhattan, will run until 2019. This is a five-year extension to the pilot project subsidized by the city, which launched in June 2011 and was set to end in June 2014. Crain’s reported that the fares for weekend service will increase to $6 from $4, and winter weekend service will decrease.
Mayor Bloomberg said ferry ridership has tripled since 2011. “The city’s Economic Development Corporation began seeking bids to extend service last December after initial reports revealed that traffic on the ferries was vastly exceeding expectations, especially after Superstorm Sandy sidelined the subway system,” said the story. “The number of riders were twice what was projected, and weekend ferries had to turn some passengers away because of increased demand.”
The service has been especially popular and important along the waterfront in North Brooklyn to quickly connect residents of new high rise towers there to jobs in Manhattan. It has also proved a boon whenever subway service shuts down, such as along the L and R lines.
The DOT started construction last week on a pedestrian island and other safety improvements at the intersection of Church Avenue and Ocean Parkway, Kensington BK reported. The DOT has promised to repair damaged sidewalks and crosswalks and to install high-visiblity crosswalk markings, speed limit signs on Ocean Parkway and “Traffic Signal Ahead” signs along Prospect Expressway.
After the DOT conducted a study of the most accident-prone parts of Ocean Parkway, several other dangerous intersections along the six-lane road were selected for safety upgrades, including Avenue C, Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Avenue and 18th Avenue, according to Streetsblog. The work on Ocean Parkway should wrap in the spring, and the other improvements will start in 2015.
The Select Bus Service on Nostrand and Rogers Avenues between Bed Stuy and Sheepshead Bay starts November 17, according to an email from the MTA and DOT. When SBS service begins, the B44 Limited will become the B44 SBS, and the B44 local will continue service at all its current stops. For the first two weeks after SBS launches, the DOT will have Customer Ambassadors at every SBS station to explain the service and the new prepayment system. The DOT recently finished painting the bus lanes and installing the new wayfinding signs and prepayment kiosks throughout Crown Heights and Prospect Heights.
The SBS project team is holding a meeting next Thursday, November 7, at 6:30 pm to present all the planned and finished improvements, which include dedicated bus lanes, enhanced SBS stations, fare prepayment, end-to-end limited stops, signal optimization, transit signal priority, street resurfacing, pedestrian wayfinding signs, truck delivery windows, and new high-capacity, low-floor, three-door articulated buses. The meeting will take place in the Bedford Lounge on the second floor of the Brooklyn College Student Center at Campus Road and East 27th Street.
You can learn more about the SBS project here on its nyc.gov page.