Judge dismisses road diet suit; DOT quickly jumps to the task

The fate of the Morris Park Avenue road diet legal challenge was learned late Friday, October 18, several hours before the start of a beautiful fall weekend.

In a blow to the thriving business community, a judge dismissed the road diet action, noting that the merchants were not aggrieved enought.

On Monday, October 21 at 8 a.m. NYC Department of Transportation moved at breakspeed to re-start the re-marking of the roadway for the new lane design. By the end of Wednesday the street was prepared for the new lines from Adams Street to Bronxdale Avenue.

Earlier efforts by DOT to intiate the unpopular reduction of travel lanes on the heavily-trafficked thoroughfare were thwarted at the last moment by an temporary restraining order in late spring, as the road lines were being removed. DOT had to restore the old markings while the injunction continued.

The defendants have launched an appeal but are not sure they can delay the road diet’s progress as the action moves through the court.

John Parker, a City Island-based attorney, is representing the merchants. The appeal is based on errors of law and errors of fact.

In Judge Lucindo Suarez’ decision he praised Bronx DOT commissioner Nivardo Lopez for reaching out to the Morris Park merchants and obtaining their support for the plan.

Parker has not been able to locate the merchants Lopez allegedly spoke to about the road diet.

According to the city’s road diet plan, Morris Park Avenue, which currently has four travel lanes, two in each direction, would have only one thru-traffic lane in each direction, dedicated left-turn bays and a bicycle lane on each side of the street, under the plan. Some street parking would be eliminated to accommodate a loading zone.

The plan encompasses the length of Morris Park Avene from Adams Street to Newport Place, a distance of 1.7 miles.

Road diets are being implimented throughout the city to slow down traffic in an effort to save lives. Parker doesn’t agree that the safety statistics support what the city is doing.

Morris Park Avenue is the primary access road for emergency vehicles heading to Montefiore’s Einstein Hospital and NYC Health and Hospital’s Jacobi Hospital and the road diet may actually lead to a slower emergency response time, putting patients’ lives in danger.

The many ‘mom & pop’ stores that line the avenue are already struggling for survival. Between e-commerce and the non-stop ticketing of their customers by NYC traffic agents, the don’t need another challenge.

Already the businesses are wondering how will they get their deliveries if the trucks have nowhere to double park.

The Morris Park Association and Community Board 11 have opposed the plan since Day 1. They believe that traffic will spill onto the residential side streets if traffic becomes bottlenecked on Morris Park Avenue.

The side streets are not prepared to handle the overflow traffic and the Morris Park community’s young and old residents alike will be in jeopardy by the increased traffic volume on their streets.

Councilman Mark Gjonaj has supported the community in its efforts to derail the city’s plan.

“I will continue to support the community’s wishes. When they proceed with an appeal, I will help in any way I can,” Gjonaj said.

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