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Opposition to NYC DOT's McGuinness Boulevard redesign mounts in Greenpoint

Opposition to NYC DOT's McGuinness Boulevard redesign mounts in Greenpoint
Opposition to NYC DOT's McGuinness Boulevard redesign mounts in Greenpoint 02:15

NEW YORK -- Tensions flared in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on Tuesday afternoon, as hundreds gathered at a rally organized by local workers and business owners.

They say the Department of Transportation's new plan for the roadway will bring traffic along McGuinness Boulevard to a standstill.

"It would become too difficult for productions to actually function properly in a city that is already difficult logistically," said Nicholas Saad, owner of That Cat Camera Support.

Rally-goers were part of a coalition called Keep McGuinness Moving, a group opposed to NYC DOT's push for a so-called "road diet" on the one-mile-long boulevard. Randy Peers, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said people who live and work in the area weren't involved in the redesign process.

"Without any data, they chose the most disruptive of the options, reducing McGuinness Boulevard to one lane each way. One lane, insane. It doesn't work. It doesn't work for a major artery, truck artery like this," Peers said.

NYC DOT originally put out a plan to reduce the corridor to one lane of traffic in each direction, and create protected bike lanes. Following opposition from the group and the area's local film industry, a new plan, billed as a compromise, has been put in motion. It still includes a bike lane, and a flex lane, sometimes for driving, sometimes for parking. 

The first phase of the work has already begun with the removal of some of the hardware on the north end of the corridor. Workers will start changing street markings next week. 

A spokesperson from NYC DOT said in a statement:  "Traffic safety is a key priority for Mayor Adams, and, as we have previously said, we are delivering a redesign of McGuinness Boulevard that will make this corridor safer for all road users. Too many New Yorkers have been injured or lost their lives on McGuinness Boulevard, and the city has made significant safety improvements in recent years -- both under the Adams administration and with Mayor Adams' support when he was borough president. The Adams administration has continuously listened to members of this community and updated our design accordingly. This project will calm traffic, create protected bike lanes, and better accommodate everyone traveling through this neighborhood."

Those pushing for a road diet include an opposing coalition called Make McGuinness Safe. It is not pleased with the compromised plan either, saying it will create more confusion. 

"Keep McGuiness Moving are not traffic engineers. I am not a traffic engineer. DOT are traffic engineers. They have done their studies and they have concluded that a McGuiness Boulevard is a viable road for a road diet. They also know that road diets make street safer," said Bronwyn Breitner, coordinator for Make McGuinness Safe. 

Activists from Transportation Alternatives said dangerous conditions on the road affect everyone in the area. 

"Three thousand five hundred children roughly live within a quarter mile of McGuiness Boulevard. And there's 18 schools and daycare centers and a quarter mile of this boulevard. So there are children up and down around crossing the street every single day. And it's incredibly, incredibly dangerous," said associate director Alexa Sledge.

NYC DOT will monitor the project and make adjustments where needed over the winter. While plans for the southern end of the corridor are still in the air, the city plans to make a decision and finish the work by next spring. 

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