Slow down L shutdown

Because he had the audacity to announce he plans to sue the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Department of Transportation over their plan to shut down part of the L train route for nearly a year and a half, Village attorney Arthur Schwartz has been slammed by the plan’s supporters.

He has been called “selfish” while his lawsuit is being bashed as an “11th-hour effort.”

But Schwartz, who is also the Village’s elected Democratic district co-leader, is not just representing himself, but about two-dozen Village and Chelsea block associations and co-op and condo boards that, in turn, represent thousands of local residents.

The M.T.A. admits, “No street will be more disrupted by the L train disruption than 14th St.”

However, it seems clear that neither agency has conducted an environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., for this massive plan, which would impact, not just Brooklyn commuters, but all of Manhattan in and around 14th St. How could it not? Making 14th St. a car-less “busway,” installing a two-way protected bike lane on 13th St., will have impacts.

The M.T.A. and D.O.T. argue that a lot of the car traffic displaced from 14th St. will just…vanish. Advocates for the 14th St. “PeopleWay” plan cite a study showing that precisely this happened in Paris when cars were banned from a street by the Seine.

Hey, as far as we’re concerned, the fewer cars, the better. Similarly, we’re all for more mass transit and more cycling and bike paths. But we don’t think all of these improvements necessarily should be installed without first doing a legally required E.I.S. — especially not for a project of this magnitude, and where some changes may well become permanent.

And if the number of buses would be increased on 14th St. during the L outage, why would they not be powered by a super-clean fuel, like renewable natural gas (RNG)? Instead, the M.T.A. has purchased 200 diesel buses to help deal with what has been dubbed the “L-pocalypse.” What? Again, that’s another thing that should be studied under an E.I.S.

An M.T.A. official at a recent presentation in the Village on the proposed L shutdown downplayed this, saying diesel motors today burn much more cleanly than 20 or even 10 years ago. But as one concerned resident testified, giving the example of another energy source that Trump wants to boost: “There is no such thing as clean coal.”

City and Country School parents fear for the safety of their kids, especially the young ones, if a two-way bike lane is installed in front of their school. Let’s face it, a two-way bike lane is more hazardous. It doesn’t take a planning degree to realize that.

And while we’re discussing better modes of moving people around, what about the disabled? The L has very few A.D.A. elevators. Schwartz, taking a page from a recently filed lawsuit by disabled advocates, says the L project, since it includes federally funded station improvements, must include elevators.

There are many moving pieces to this plan that is intended to keep New Yorkers moving. But there’s no crisis right now, there’s no rush, and there’s no harm in doing an E.I.S. In fact, it would do a lot of good to think this plan through more carefully and coherently — and, above all, to do it legally.

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