By Brendan Krisel
HARLEM, NY — City officials are postponing the implementation of a traffic-calming plan that would add bike lanes to one of Harlem's most dangerous avenues, according to reports.
The city Department of Transportation will not make planned changes to Amsterdam Avenue between West 110th and 155th Streets because Community Board 9 will not hold a vote on the project, Streetsblog first reported. The board has refused to vote on the plan for 19 months because its transportation committee fears it will result in the slowing of traffic on the avenue, according to the report.
"Every time you say you're taking out a lane, you're slowing traffic down. I don't care what they're saying, it slows traffic down," CB 9 Transportation chair Carolyn Thompson said during a Monday night town hall, as reported by Streetsblog.
Board members are also concerned about the new street layout's possibility to increase the number of idling vehicles on the avenue and have called on a health study to be conducted before the board votes, CB9 vice chair Victor Edwards told Patch.
"The community above 125th ST. and Amsterdam Ave. is already impacted by two nycta bus depots and the North River Sewage Treatment plant," Edwards told Patch in an email. "We have called on several occasions for a health impact study prior to the implementation of this plan which has been ignored."
The city Department of Transportation has been pitching a plan to redesign the stretch since the beginning of 2017 that will add painted bike lanes, left turn bays and pedestrian safety islands to the 45-block stretch of Amsterdam Avenue. The redesign will also reduce the number of travel lanes from four to two on the two-way avenue and add loading zones to help businesses receive deliveries, according to the DOT's latest presentation of the plan.
Making the avenue narrower and adding turning bays will discourage speeding and create simpler and safer left turns for cars, according to the DOT.
Local City Councilman Mark Levine called the Amsterdam Avenue safety upgrades urgent during a September rally and said that the targeted stretch currently experiences nearly one collision per day. More than 750 people have been injured and three people have been killed in automobile collisions since 2012 on the stretch of Amsterdam Avenue, Levine said in September.
"What you're looking at here on Amsterdam Avenue is a street designed according to state-of-the-art principals from half a century ago. It's a street that is desparately need in modernization and we have learned a lot in the past half century about how to make our city streets safer and more efficient for everybody," Levine said during the September rally.
The city does not community board approval to implement projects such as the one planned for Amsterdam Avenue, but has decided to wait for a vote from Community Board 9, Streetsblog reported. With conditions in New York City getting colder, the window of opportunity to implement the plan is shrinking, according to the report.
Messages to the city Department of Transportation and City Councilman Mark Levine's office were not immediately returned. Patch will update this article when we hear back.