The Morris Park community came together to send a message to the city regarding a proposal to rechannel traffic flow on their main commercial corridor.
The Morris Park Community Association held a town hall meeting on the NYC Department of Transportation’s proposed “Corridor Safety Improvements” – otherwise known as its ‘road diet’ for Morris Park Avenue.
The meeting took place Wednesday, November 28 at P.S. 83 where the vast majority of community speakers opposed the proposal, which DOT maintains is a safety measure.
The proposal would see the number of travel lanes on Morris Park Avenue between Bronxdale and Newport avenues reduced to one lane from two in each direction, along with the addition of a turning bay in the center, and five-foot wide bicycle lane on both sides.
Al D’Angelo, MPCA president said that Community Board 11 was unanimously with one abstention against the road diet plan, and that MPCA and the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance boards also voted unanimously against the plan.
“What really gets me is that the will of the people is being ignored,” said D’Angelo, adding “Everyone is against it, but (the city is)going to do it anyway.”
The MPCA collected over 1,000 petition signatures opposing the proposal, said D’Angelo, who is also owns a small business on the avenue.
D’Angelo said that the organization’s next order of business might be to go to court to see if they can get an injunction against the project.
He also said that based on his conversations with DOT officials, a final decision has not yet been made.
D’Angelo added that if traffic were to back up on the avenue, traffic would divert to the residential side streets running parallel to the avenue, causing a dangerous situation for young families with children.
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, one of several elected officials who spoke, said that the issue on Morris Park Avenue, as much as the city would like to portray otherwise, isn’t a life and death issue.
“The reasonable approach made by the Morris Park community should be listened to and given due respect at City Hall,” said the assemblyman. “A road diet should not be forced on the people of Morris Park and Van Nest against their wishes.”
Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez and Councilman Mark Gjonaj also offered remarks.
Fernandez said that the two hospitals at the eastern end of Morris Park Avenue need clear roadways for ambulances (which cannot be blocked in a single lane of traffic in an emergency).
Gjonaj said that with a planned Metro North Station and up-zoning in play for Eastchester Road, more traffic congestion could occur and a study needs to be conducted to measure the impact of the proposal when all the elements are in place.
The councilman said he would oppose the road diet because as the councilman he will abide with the will of the people.
Those speakers at the town hall, who mostly spoke in opposition, cited a number of other issues, including loading and unloading for businesses along the commercial corridor, and that they felt the road diet plan didn’t appear to work in communities near Morris Park.
A handful of speakers spoke in favor of the project, with one, Roxanne Delgado of Pelham Parkway, telling the Bronx Times she is in favor of the bicycle lanes because she believes that it might encourage would-be motorists to use alternative forms of transit.
DOT didn’t comment as of press time.