NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Huge changes are coming to 14th Street in Manhattan starting Thursday.
The busy crosstown route will close to through traffic from early morning until late evening and become a busway.
City officials held a news conference Wednesday morning where Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg admitted the city has never done anything quite this aggressive before. Starting Thursday, motorists will not be able to just simply drive straight across 14th, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
Web Extra: DOT Update On 14th Street Busway:
There will be no through traffic allowed from Third to Ninth avenues on 14th from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day. Along with that, no left turns will be allowed off 14th at any time.
Only buses and trucks will be allowed to make through trips.
The goal of this is to increase speeds and reliability on the M14 bus, which has seen a decline in ridership over the last few years. It travels about 5 mph and the city estimates with the changes speeds will increase about 25%, saving passengers five minutes on their trip. So, 14th Street will have one eastbound and one westbound lane for buses. An outer lane on each side will be for commercial loading and unloading, along with quick passenger pick-ups and drop-offs, which will be allowed.
“Makes it a faster commute on the bus, so I think it’s a good idea,” bus rider Nathan Ingram said.
The plan was held up in litigation until last Friday, with opponents worried in part about gridlock on side streets, and how the changes will effect residents and businesses in the area.
“If anybody in their right mind thinks that there’s not going to be a major impact because of this, they’re crazy,” said Elissa Stein of the 14th Street Coalition.
Trottenberg said the DOT has taken concerns into account.
“We’re allowing, just to be clear, local pick-ups and drop-offs,” Trottenberg said. “Your taxis and Ubers, you need to drop someone off, deliveries, those can all still happen on 14th Street. Likewise, because one concern we heard from the side streets was would trucks divert, so we’re also going to allow trucks to go through.”
She stressed this is an 18-month pilot program, so the DOT will make adjustments as needed along the way and see how it all works.
The city will enforce this with police and traffic agents, along with stationary cameras and bus cameras. If you’re caught on camera, there will be a 60-day grace period starting Thursday, but then fines start at $50. The NYPD said it will not start ticketing on Thursday, but did not specify when that will start.