City Won't Change Bus Lane That Blocks 34th Street Residents From Loading
HELL'S KITCHEN — The Department of Transportation has refused a request by elected officials, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, to allow residents and business owners on West 34th Street to load during the day.
Apartment-dwellers on the south side of the 400 block of West 34th Street say they've been dodging tickets while loading groceries and furniture to their lobbies from the street.
The southern lane of the block, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, became part of an express bus lane in 2009 and no standing is allowed there between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. People living nearby approached elected officials for help, saying they have no curbside access to their properties.
In a letter dated June 1, 2011 and signed by Quinn, along with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Representative Jerrold Nadler, State Senator Thomas Duane, and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, the officials requested that the DOT change the no standing times from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
"While we understand that each block and traffic situation is unique, the fact that this type of regulation occurs in other areas suggests that it could be a viable solution on this block," the officials wrote.
But DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione refused to give residents a midday loading window, writing in a letter to Quinn that the 34th Street bus lane is busy all day and that curbside loading would interrupt it.
"Although we appreciate the concerns of the residents of the 34th Street block between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, the current curb configuration on 34th Street provides significant benefits to bus riders," she wrote.
The DOT wrote that loading areas will return to the block once the 34th Street Select Bus Service plan is completed sometime in late 2012. The new service would offer riders off-bus ticketing to speed up transit across 34th Street.
But residents say that's not soon enough.
"It's ridiculous. We don't have a legal way to get deliveries," said Patrick Aitcheson, who lives on the block. "Some deliveries won't come anymore."
George Papas, whose family owns the Skylight Diner at 402 W. 34th St., said it's become increasingly difficult to get food deliveries, and that some of his suppliers no longer want to deliver on the block.
"They can't park on the bus lane," he said. "They have to double park in the middle of the block on Ninth Avenue."
Papas said his father got a $115 ticket while stopped in front of their restaurant to unload ingredients he bought at a nearby market.
"I'd like to be able to get deliveries in a practical manner," he said.
Residents said they're still working with elected officials and Community Board 4 to see what can be done to allow loading on the street.
"What else can we do?" Aitcheson said. "We can't move our building."