Skip to content

Posts from the "DDC" Category

4 Comments

Eyes on the Street: Rehab of Inwood’s 215th Step-Street Finally Underway

Photo: Brad Aaron

Photo: Brad Aaron

After years of delays, work began today to rebuild the 215th Step-Street in Inwood.

These stairs, which technically serve as a car-free street, connect residential blocks in northwest Inwood with shops on Broadway, and they are a link for commuters headed to the 1 train. The step-street is quite steep, with cracked stairs and broken lamps. The city has done a decent job patching the steps as needed, but there’s only so much that can be done in its current state. In 2007 a woman tripped on a hole in the stairs, cutting her legs and face. Several steps had begun to crumble again during the recent cold snap.

In the fall of 2011, the Department of Design and Construction told Streetsblog the stairs would be rehabbed in the summer of 2013. Before that, the timeline called for a 2009 finish date — and before that, Inwood residents were told it would be done in 2005.

DNAinfo reported last July that a contract had been awarded, and now it looks like the wait is over. By 7:30 this morning, crews had cordoned off a segment of the stairs to start work. In addition to new steps, the design will include tracks for bikes to be wheeled up and down the stairs.

Construction is expected to take 17 months, according to DNAinfo, and DDC says the steps will remain open for use throughout.

28 Comments

Here’s What’s Next for the Flushing Ave Segment of the Brooklyn Greenway

Image: NYC DOT/DDC/Parsons

The next phase of Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway construction on Flushing Avenue will build a raised two-way bikeway and planted buffers alongside the Brooklyn Navy Yard, creating a safer, more appealing environment on what has already become a much-used bike route. Here’s a look at the recently unveiled design from NYC DOT, the Department of Design and Construction, and project consultant Parsons.

As the city builds out the permanent greenway, reconstructing Flushing Avenue is one of the most important capital projects – a mile-long link connecting the Manhattan Bridge approach, DUMBO, and Farragut Houses to Williamsburg Street West, Kent Avenue, and Williamsburg/Greenpoint. The major upgrade entails converting the existing westbound curbside bike lane into a two-way bikeway at sidewalk grade, separated from motor traffic by a three-foot, planted cobblestone buffer. Another planting strip will separate the bikeway from the pedestrian path. For pedestrians, adding this bikeway will narrow crossing distances substantially — about 20 percent.

The Flushing Avenue greenway segment will add an eight-foot-wide, two-way bikeway at sidewalk grade and shorten crossing distances for pedestrians by about 20 percent. Image: NYC DOT/DDC/Parsons

Read more…

15 Comments

Queens CB 5 Set to Move Ahead With Bike Lane Planning, Plaza Construction

In Queens, Community Board 2 has garnered attention for its partnership with DOT on bike route planning. Immediately to the southeast, CB 5 has been busy working with the Department of City Planning on a parallel effort to map out routes in Ridgewood, Maspeth, and Middle Village that could receive bike lanes as soon as fall of next year.

Ridgewood, Middle Village, and Maspeth are missing the bike lanes that neighboring areas to the north and west enjoy. CB 5 is looking to change that. Map: NYC DOT

Last year, the community board approached DOT asking for new bike lanes; while DOT will handle implementation in CB 5, it has handed off planning for the area to DCP’s transportation planning division. Community meetings over the spring and summer led DCP to develop a list of routes:

  • Eliot Avenue from Metropolitan Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard;
  • Juniper Boulevard South from 69th Street to Dry Harbor Road;
  • Woodward Avenue, Onderdonk Avenue, and connecting streets from Metropolitan Avenue to Cypress Hills Cemetery;
  • Central Avenue and Cooper Avenue from Cypress Hills Street to Woodhaven Boulevard;
  • 69th Street from Calamus Avenue to Metropolitan Avenue; and
  • 80th Street from the Long Island Expressway to Myrtle Avenue.

There are four additional routes that could receive further study: Grand Avenue, a north-south route between Ridgewood and Maspeth, a route between Ridgewood and Bushwick, and a loop around Juniper Valley Park. CB 5 transportation committee member John Maier said DCP was also considering a route along Rust Street, connecting to streets near Woodside.

“That’s just what they’re looking at; it doesn’t mean they’re going to get any specific treatment,” Maier said, adding that DCP staff is currently taking measurements of streets and coming up with design treatments for some of the streets. DCP will host another workshop with the community board next month to show its preliminary recommendations. Those projects could be implemented as soon as fall 2014. (DCP and DOT have not responded to questions from Streetsblog.)

Read more…

2 Comments

City Releases New Design Recommendations for Sidewalks

The latest update to the city's Active Design Guidelines recommends treatments for the four “planes” framing the sidewalk — the canopy, the ground plane, the building wall, and the roadside. Photo: Center for Active Design

Last month at the the eighth Fit City conference, the same day DOT unveiled a new pedestrian wayfinding initiative, the city released an update to its Active Design Guidelines focusing specifically on sidewalk design. Although the new guidelines are just suggestions, the new document lays out a vision for how the city’s sidewalks can be designed to encourage more walking, and it has the imprimatur of the mayor and the commissioners of transportation, city planning, health, and design and construction.

The two-part document, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, categorizes its recommendations into four “planes” framing the sidewalk — the canopy, the ground plane, the building wall, and the roadside. The authors visited more than 30 sidewalks in six cities to observe and measure what gets people to walk more, and what doesn’t. The guide recognizes the many types of sidewalks in New York, from busy Midtown to quiet residential streets lined with trees and lawns. It identifies six attributes of a good sidewalk: safety, accessibility, sustainability and resilience, human scale, continuous variety, and connectivity.

Although the report does not propose specific regulatory changes, it does include general suggestions for how zoning, agency design guides, and other rules can be used to improve the sidewalk experience.

The report recommends constant variety in retail stores — also known as “skinny storefronts” – to foster an engaging environment for walking. On the Upper West Side, a rezoning last year restricted storefront width to 40 feet, with the goal of keeping blocks from becoming monotonous and uninviting to pedestrians.

These types of policies can make or break a streetscape. On Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, a wave of new development following a 2003 rezoning faced the sidewalk with big blank walls and parking lots. Eventually the Department of City Planning updated the zoning, banning garages next to the sidewalk on the avenue and mandating some retail on ground floors.

7 Comments

At Pioneering Ped Plaza, Paint and Planters Are Now Curbs and Concrete

All smiles at today's ribbon-cutting for Willoughby Plaza in Downtown Brooklyn. Photo: Stephen Miller

NYC DOT’s plaza program hit a milestone today, when officials cut the ribbon on a block of Willoughby Street reclaimed from car traffic between Pearl and Adams Streets in Downtown Brooklyn. What used to be, essentially, a private parking lot for government placard holders, is now the first plaza program project to make the transition from temporary materials to permanent construction.

The 14,000 square-foot plaza, set in motion in 2006 with a street reclamation by Iris Weinshall’s DOT, was folded into DOT’s Plaza Program after Janette Sadik-Khan took charge of the agency. It then entered the capital project pipeline for the Department of Design and Construction, which raised the plaza to the same grade as the sidewalk and worked with DEP to replace water mains.

The project cost $2 million, paid for by federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez was on hand for today’s ribbon-cutting, along with Sadik-Khan, DDC Commissioner David Burney, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Tucker Reed, Jeff Kay of Muss Development, and Borough President Marty Markowitz.

“It’s a pleasure when the commissioner and I can be on the same side of a project,” Markowitz said, before launching into a gregarious bit inviting the single people of Brooklyn to make the plaza their new meeting spot.

The overall theme this morning was not match-making, but retail sales. Sadik-Khan cited research showing that plazas help improve retail sales, adding that DOT expects to release a complete study of those effects this summer.

Read more…

6 Comments

Greenpoint Gets a Preview of Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway on West Street

A preliminary rendering of the two-way bikeway and planted buffer slated for West Street in Greenpoint. Image: DDC

NYC DOT and consultants for the Department of Design and Construction gave Greenpoint residents a glimpse of preliminary designs for the West Street segment of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Wednesday night at a full meeting of Brooklyn Community Board 1. The two-way bikeway proposed for West Street is the first of 23 capital projects that will eventually comprise the finished, 14-mile greenway.

While CB 1 voted in 2008 to support a similar redesign of Kent Avenue (a preliminary segment in the greenway), the current board seems to have regressed since then, and residents who support the project shouldn’t take anything for granted. At Wednesday’s meeting, the fundamental premise of establishing a two-way bike lane on the street received some support from the audience, but also a hostile response from the transportation committee chair.

For motor traffic, the plan would convert the length of West Street, currently two-way, to one-way northbound. Approximately 80 parking spaces on the west side of the street would be replaced with a two-way bike lane, separated from motor vehicle traffic by a mountable curb.

A mountable curb is not what Milton Puryear of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative would have preferred for West Street. “It’s not ideal,” he said, noting that the he often encounters parked cars on the Sands Street bike path, which has a mountable curb. While the proposed design will be open to similar incursions, Puryear said, it will be “way better than the way it is.”

Read more…

4 Comments

City Says Decrepit Inwood Step-Street on Track for Rehab

After a dozen years of waiting, what's a couple more, give or take? Photo: Brad Aaron

It was supposed to happen circa 2005. Then in 2009. Now the city says the restoration of a crumbling block-long staircase that serves as a pedestrian-only street in Inwood will be finished by summer 2013.

The 215th Step-Street connects Broadway to residential blocks at Inwood’s northern end. For years its cracked stairs and broken lamps have posed a hazard — neighborhood residents have been asking the city to rebuild it since at least 1999. In 2007 a woman tripped on a hole in the stairs, cutting her legs and face, prompting renewed calls for action.

In 2008, DOT officials and then-Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat announced that a reconstruction project would be completed the following year. Instead, in the summer of 2009 the city backed off its pledge.

Now the Department of Design and Construction says plans are moving forward.

“The project is in Final Design and that phase is scheduled to be completed by July 2012,” a DDC spokesperson told Streetsblog. “The project is scheduled to begin construction in FY 13.”

While the news is promising, Inwoodites could be forgiven for not holding their breath.

11 Comments

In Unanimous Vote, CB 2 Embraces People-Friendly Astor Place

CB 2 voted unanimously to create this new public plaza at Cooper Square, though they want there not to be seating at night. Image: DDC.

CB 2 voted unanimously to create this new public plaza at Cooper Square, with the proviso that seating be removed at night. Image: DDC

Last night, Manhattan Community Board 2 resoundingly endorsed the city’s plans to transform Astor Place and Cooper Square from asphalt expanses into pedestrian-friendly public spaces. After including some language in its resolution to appease the concerns of certain residents, the roughly 40 community board members in attendance voted unanimously for the plan to transform street space into plazas and expanded sidewalks.

The plan includes a new 8,000 square foot pedestrian plaza at Cooper Square, a plaza replacing one block of Astor Place below the cube sculpture, widened sidewalks, 113 bike racks, 64 new trees, and thousands of square feet of new plantings and environmentally-friendly permeable surfaces.

In the days before last night’s vote, some opposition to the plan had emerged from former CB 2 members active in the NoHo community. At the meeting, Jeanne Wilcke, the president of the Downtown Independent Democrats, requested a delay to “fine tune” the plans, which has been in the works for about a decade, worrying about the traffic effects of narrower streets and the management of the new public spaces.

Another speaker, Marty Tessler, demanded that the plan’s hard-surface open space be replaced with landscaping in order to keep too many people from gathering there. “We are hopeful that we will not be subjected to the street performers and all that,” he added.

Following testimony from six people, the community board voted unanimously for an amended resolution supporting the city’s plan. None of those amendments take away from the overall support for the redesign.

Read more…

13 Comments

City Shows Off Plan to Reclaim Astor Place for Pedestrians [Updated]

New plazas would return Astor Place to pedestrians. Image: DDC.

New plazas would return Astor Place to pedestrians. Image: DDC.

Plans to transform another asphalt tangle into a great public space are moving forward at Astor Place, and Curbed has the details. With significant street space being reclaimed for pedestrians, the plan should serve as a new gathering place in the East Village and make the neighborhood safer for walking.

Here are a few of the highlights from the presentation made by the Department of Design and Construction to Community Boards 2 and 3 last night:

  • The block of Astor Place south of the cube will be completely replaced by a new plaza, integrating the island where the sculpture sits with the pedestrian environment.
  • The plaza around the subway entrance at Astor Place will be expanded considerably, as will the sidewalks around that intersection.
  • 8,000 new square feet of pedestrian space will be built at the southern edge of Cooper Square, roughly between E. 5th and 6th Streets.

As a capital project, the reconstruction will include more heavy-duty elements than the pedestrian reclamations built out on Broadway so far. Think concrete, granite, street trees, benches, bike racks, and a new green stormwater management system.

We’re still waiting for additional information about the plan from DDC and the local community board, like when exactly this plan, which has been in the works for several years, will become a reality. In the meantime, though, be sure to check out Curbed for the most comprehensive look at the new design so far, including 24 images. Here are two more images from last night presentation:

UPDATE: A DDC spokesperson informs us that the project will be put out to bid this summer and that construction should begin in spring 2012.

Read more…

5 Comments

What Should Happen at Myrtle Avenue’s New Plaza? The Public Weighs In

A two-block pedestrian plaza is coming to Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill, replacing an underused service road between Grand Avenue and Emerson Place. Last Friday, the local business improvement district unveiled eight potential ideas for the site (check out the BID's Flickr stream to see them all) and asked viewers for their feedback.

Myrtle_Avenue_Service_Road.jpgMyrtle Avenue today. The service road on the left is slated to become a pedestrian plaza. Image: Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, via Flickr
NYCDOT selected the Myrtle Avenue site last year to receive funding in the first round of the agency's plaza program. The Myrtle Avenue plaza will reclaim a significant amount of street space for pedestrians, converting a lane of traffic and 38 on-street parking spaces to public space (and metering another 52 spaces that were previously free).

Although DOT and the Department of Design and Construction will ultimately select their own design team, local partners like the Myrtle Avenue BID were invited to hold "visioning workshops" for their sites. Rather than selecting a final design for the project, Friday night's event was intended to generate ideas and gauge public interest in different uses, with attendees writing their thoughts on clipboards and post-it notes.

The "New Wave" design featured an eye-catching centerpiece in its cantilevered awning, ecologically-minded materials like permeable pavement, and a sunken amphitheater for performances -- ideas that seemed to align well with the elements that participants asked for.

Read more...