Chinatown Traffic Study Takes Aim at Double-Parking Nightmare
By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
CHINATOWN — Pervasive double-parking, confusing loading regulations and crowded sidewalks combine to form a perfect storm of traffic in Chinatown, the target of a long-awaited traffic study set to kick off this summer.
The Department of Transportation-led study, which has been in the works for a decade, will draw data from 60 traffic-clogged Lower East Side blocks in partnership with local community groups. The study was made possible through nearly $750,000 in funding from Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, nine years after the project idea was first introduced.
Representatives from the DOT outlined the plan last week, explaining that 20 "pilot blocks" will be selected for implementation of the new parking regulations, including the reconfiguration of curbside space for businesses and residential parking, and the possible adjustment of meters or rates.
"You will be seeing actionable and tangible improvements," said Willa Ng, project manager for planning and sustainability at the DOT, noting that "extensive public outreach" will help define Chinatown's major problem areas.
The Chinatown bus industry brings 300 buses into the community each day, and the approacing 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is expected to add to the gridlock by dumping additional tour buses to the area.
In addition, curb parking space is at a premium with rogue delivery trucks and street vendors jockeying for space, creating a confusing system that exacerbates double-parking and congestion, officials said.
Officials assured residents that parking fees will not go up as a result of the project. The city hopes to begin implementing changes by the spring or summer of 2012.
The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and Asian American Federation will help complete the study, which will utilize a bilingual online portal for users to follow and comment on the project. Thirty percent of the project's cost will be used for public outreach efforts, DOT officials added.
The study will build off data and recommendations from other transportation projects — including an analysis of Canal Street and the reconstruction of a nearby public plaza — to inform the final plan, officials said.