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New Traffic Plan Rolled Out in Conversion of Kips Bay Street Into Park

KIPS BAY — Construction of expanded park space along Asser Levy Place will begin in the next two weeks — bringing with it new traffic rules that will take effect this summer, city officials said.

Conversion of the short strip of street between East 23rd and 25th Streets, next to Asser Levy Playground along the FDR Drive, will be completed in two phases, said Philip Abramson, a spokesman for the City Parks Department.

During the first phase, the City Department of Design and Construction will replace or relocate the water main beneath Asser Levy Place. This portion will begin in two weeks and take as long as a month to complete, officials said.

During this phase, only one lane of northbound traffic on Asser Levy Place will be open, though the whole street will be closed permanently by the summertime, Philips said. At that time, East 25th Street will be converted from a westbound street to a two-way street, he noted.

In 2011, the city agreed to sell a portion of Robert Moses Playground to the United Nations, so that the UN could build a two-building campus there in the future.

In exchange, the city promised to convert Asser Levy Place to make up for the lost park space.

In the second phase, which is expected to take place this summer, the Parks Department will honor that promise by expanding Asser Levy Playground into Asser Levy Place.

Currently, the street sits adjacent to the playground, a recreational center and a pool.

“The reason behind [traffic change] is that, originally, the only way trucks could access 25th Street was through Asser Levy Place,” said Fred Arcaro, chair of Community Board 6's transportation committee. “Without Asser Levy, the trucks would have to go on the FDR Drive, and commercial vehicles can’t go on the FDR.”

The Parks Department and the DOT recently presented plans to close Asser Levy Place and convert East 25th Street to CB 6's transportation committee.

Although the proposals were approved by the full board, some committee members were concerned that the new two-way rule at East 25th Street would conflict with a potential increase in traffic caused by the sanitation garage expected to open at East 25th Street and First Avenue, Arcaro said.

“People in land use [committee] got a different traffic pattern from Sanitation," he said, "but what agency would know better than the DOT?”