CB11 sends letter to city: Put a ‘stop’ to road diet plan

CB11 sends letter to city: Put a ‘stop’ to road diet plan
Community News Group/Sarah Valenzuela

The Morris Park community has spoken: Vision Zero’s road diet proposal for Morris Park Avenue is not going to happen if they have any say on the subject.

On Thursday, May 24 Community Board 11 voted to send a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city in opposition to the lane reduction plan for Morris Park Avenue.

“We know how bad traffic already is here,” said Tony Vitaliano, chair of Community Board 11, during the meeting. “But no one ever consulted us before they came up with the plan.”

These NYC Department of Tranpotation plans would add a turn bay, narrow the vehicle lanes and parking lanes, which would also be separated by a new bike lane on either side of the road.

In the letter, the board asked the city to hold off on plans for the road dieting implementation until after the completion of the not-yet-funded Metro North Morris Park train station.

The reason they tied the road plan to the train station is because it could dramatically alter existing traffic patterns, and in turn modify the data the DOT used in recommending the present plan.

Everyone on the community board voted in favor of sending the letter, except for one person, who declined to speak to the Bronx Times.

“This is our neighborhood, we know what works here and this (road diet) plan will not work,” continued Vitaliano.

Driving on Morris Park Avenue has become increasingly difficult due to double-parked cars and delivery trucks. Pedestrian safety is another concern.

Along with the many merchants along the corridor, Morris Park Avenue also has a public library and a church.

Morris Park Avenue also leads to the NYC Health + Hospital Jacobi Medical Center, Montefiore Medical Center, Yeshiva University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Some people at the meeting recalled spending 20 to 30 minutes, and sometimes even longer, just to get from one part of Morris Park Avenue to the other.

The DOT plan would only make matters worse, they claim, convinced that narrowing the vehicle lanes and adding bike lanes would do more harm than good in efforts to better protect pedestrians and cyclists

Among the list of signatures on the letter are the six local and state elected officials who represent the area, including Councilman Mark Gjonaj and assembly members Nathalia Fernandez and Michael Benedetto.

“My office received two phone calls in support of the road diet, neither lived in the community,” said Councilman Gjonaj, who was also present at the meeting, as he endorsed the community’s letter. “If this community does not want these plans, then we don’t want them either.”

“It’s completely unfair if this happens with our opposition,” said Assemblywoman Fernandez at the meeting.

Along with the letter, Tony Vitaliano also announced plans to gather at least 2,000 signatures on a petition to send to the mayor’s office, showing the depth of the community’s opposition to the plan.

As of May 30, the DOT was still considering the project with no set timetable for implementation.

In February, the DOT Bronx commissioner, Nivardo Lopez, visited the community board to discuss the DOT plans, citing success with similar projects in other areas of the borough and addressed the Morris Park Communiy Association recently, as well.

Reach Reporter Sarah Valenzuela at (718) 260-4584. E-mail her at svalenzuela@cnglocal.com.