June 18, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
Assembly Member Catherine Nolan expressed concerns over the proposed southbound bus lane on Fresh Pond Road in a letter to Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
The bus lane, first announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in April as part of the Better Buses Action Plan, would see a southbound curbside bus lane implemented from Metropolitan to Putnam Avenue.
The lane would be exclusive for buses from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Vehicles making right hand turns would also be able to use the lane.
During a presentation of the bus lane plans to Community Board 5 last week, residents and board members felt that the lane, which is intended to alleviate congestion and slow bus speeds along the corridor, is an unnecessary addition.
In her letter, Nolan did not outright call for the DOT to drop the bus lane plan, but presented several alternative strategies suggested by her constituents that could improve traffic conditions, including syncing traffic lights to aid the flow of southbound traffic.
“There has also been support for the consolidation of the bus stops, and the implementation of strategies which allow buses to turn more easily into and out of the depot, such as jump queue signaling,” Nolan wrote.
Nolan also spoke to possible redirections of traffic on surrounding streets to prevent bottlenecks on Fresh Pond Road.
“There are many left turns which are encouraged by the direction of traffic on the spurs, and this creates the predictable issue of too few vehicles being able to proceed through the green light during each cycle,” Nolan wrote.
“A bus lane will not mitigate this cause of congestion, but may actually serve to increase it, as vehicles will no longer have room to pass a left-turning car waiting in the intersection, without illegally entering the bus lane to their right.”
Nolan also questioned what impact the DOT’s proposed reduction of metered parking time limits from two hours down to one hour could have, considering the DOT claims the average stay at a metered parking spot is 18 minutes.
“It may, however, put economic pressure on our service industry storefronts and restaurants which rely on patrons’ routinely staying for more than one hour at a time,” Nolan wrote.
The DOT was unable to say whether any of the alternative strategies will be implemented prior to moving forward with the bus lane, however, DOT representatives will present tonight to Community Board 5’s Transportation Committee with an updated plan based on the concerns and suggestions heard from local residents, according to a DOT spokesperson.