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Close Grand St. and Bedford Ave. to Cars During L Train Repairs: Report

By Gwynne Hogan | November 15, 2016 9:47am
 An MTA New York City transit subway L train. Aug. 13, 2013.
An MTA New York City transit subway L train. Aug. 13, 2013.
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DNAinfo/Michael Ip

WILLIAMSBURG — Transit advocates are calling on the city to close down parts of Bedford Avenue and Grand Street to private cars in order to prioritize cyclists, pedestrians and bus traffic, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Riders Alliance and the Regional Plan Association's study on ways to streamline transportation during the 2019 shutdown of the L train recommends that the two main thoroughfares be blocked off to through traffic so there's more space for pedestrians, protected bike lanes and select bus routes. Freight deliveries and emergency vehicles should still be allowed to pass, the report said.

The report also concluded that commuting problems could be eased with a better network of bike lanes, additional select bus routes, free transfers between ferries, buses and the LIRR at Atlantic Avenue, as well as discounted ferry rides for Williamsburg residents.

The Riders Alliance interviewed 2,000 riders, businesses and community groups as part of the study, although the concept of redesigning the two main Brooklyn streets has been in the air for several months.

Advocates with Transportation Alternatives recently called for Grand Street PeopleWay, which would prioritize commuter traffic, in advance of the L train shutdown and in response to the death of cyclist Matthew Von Ohlen, who was fatally struck in a bike lane. Police arrested a suspect in Ohlen's hit-and-run death Tuesday morning.

City Councilman Antonio Reynoso has also pitched the idea of shutting down Bedford Avenue to car traffic in order to make way for the mayor's Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar concept. 

The Riders Alliance report also asks the city to make safety improvements to Delancey Street in Manhattan to better protect pedestrians and cyclists and comes out in favor of a car-free 14th Street.

Melissa Grace, a spokeswoman from the mayor's press office, said all options are on the table. 

“The administration is focused on expanding transit options and holistically improving neighborhoods that will be impacted by the L train shut down," she said. "We are studying the possibilities, and welcome all ideas."

The MTA needs to cut off L train service between Bedford Avenue and 8th Avenue for 18 months beginning in 2019 so it can make repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel underneath the East River.

If you're itching to get your great idea out there, community advocates are hosting a L train public forum at the Automotive High School in Greenpoint.