Construction of the Sands Street bike path was promised to begin in 2006...
The slow pace of safety improvements for downtown Brooklyn streets became tragically apparent earlier this month when eight-year-old Alexander Toulouse was killed by a postal truck on Livingston Street. A $5 million traffic calming project for the area, unveiled in 2007, is not the only livable streets initiative to suffer delays. The Sands Street bike path, a physically protected approach to the Manhattan Bridge, has languished behind schedule for years, held up in the city's construction bureaucracy. The project serves as a prime illustration that livable streets hinge not just on DOT, but on other, more obscure city agencies as well.
...here's how Sands Street looks today.
In April 2005, Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives was riding on Sands Street, after exiting the Manhattan Bridge, and crashed on a dangerous stretch where cyclists often have to contend with deeply pock-marked pavement and cars accelerating onto the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. He sustained severe head trauma, requiring hospitalization and a prolonged recovery.
Two years earlier, Budnick had joined other Brooklyn bike advocates in calling on the Department of Transportation to improve the safety of the very same bridge approach. Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Council member David Yassky pledged support (right). DOT, under the leadership of commissioner Iris Weinshall at the time, did announce plans for a protected bike path on Sands Street -- two months after Budnick's crash. Construction would start in 2006, the agency said.
This June marked the third anniversary of that announcement, and construction on the Sands Street bike path has still not begun. (A contractor is slated to begin work in October.) Last year, a new team took the reins at DOT and dramatically accelerated the pace of bike improvements. But getting this critical safety measure through the different stages of government approval has been slow as molasses. Why?
Capital projects like Sands Street are carried out by the city's Department of Design and Construction, which works with contractors to see DOT's designs through to completion. Read more...