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CB11 Chair threatens lawsuit over MP Ave road diet

Morris Park Avenue.
Bronx Times
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The implementation of the Morris Park Avenue ‘road diet,’ something that’s been viewed as a proverbial ‘spit in the eye’ to many Morris Park residents, will officially commence the week of Sunday, April 28, and be completed in six weeks, the NYC Department of Transportation confirmed.

When the road’s re-lining is complete, the four-lane thoroughfare will forfeit one lane in each direction, have dedicated turn bays and bicycle lanes on the bustling business corridor from Newport Avenue on the east to Adams Street on the western tip, while also implementing a truck loading zones between Colden and Paulding avenues, according to DOT.

Since its initial public proposal in early 2018, the road diet was sharply criticized by an overwhelming majority of Community Board 11 as well as Councilman Mark Gjonaj.

CB 11 chairman and small business owner on Morris Park Avenue, Al D’Angelo, is currently working with a legal team to sue the city over the road diet plan, he said.

“It’s criminal what they’re doing. It’s not their livelihood here, it’s ours,” the chairman said.

D’Angelo’s primary concern with the traffic project is that the road diet will harm the ‘mom and pop’ businesses on the avenue.

“There’s already no parking whatsoever on Morris Park Avenue, adding a loading zone means more parking spaces will disappear and double parking will only continue to get worse,” D’Angelo said.

“The business community opposed this, the Morris Park Business Improvement District is on record opposing this,” he continued.

The president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce Lisa Sorin publicly ripped the ‘Vision Zero Initiative’ plan.

In D’Angelo’ eyes, as well as many others in Morris Park, they view the city’s road diet decision as a David vs. Goliath struggle, since Mayor de Blasio is imposing the plan on the community eventhough it has made it abundantly clear they are opposed to the project.

“They’re spending a lot of money on this, money that could have gone to something more beneficial,” D’Angelo said, noting that the DOT rejected the community’s alternative proposals to the road diet offered months earlier.

Prior to reaching the point of legal action, D’Angelo, Gjonaj and other road diet opponents had thousands of residents sign petitions and held protests to have their voices heard, but to no avail.

When talks first began on the road diet proposal, Gjonaj remained neutral, pledging to support the community’s wishes.

“I stand with my community and will work to stop this project,” he said.

Gjonaj’s concerns with the plan are that it could lead to longer response times for emergency vehicles bustling in and out of neighboring Jacobi Hospital and Montefiore Hospital, while at the same time inadvertently diverting traffic to residential side streets.

“These are just some of the reasons that residents are firmly against it,” Gjonaj said.

The councilman also expressed uneasiness that the area’s congestion will be at an all time high once the Morris Park Metro North Railroad station is constructed in several years.

Most recently, Gjonaj published an ‘anti road diet’ petition on Change.org which has received over 1,088 electronic signatures.

It can be viewed at www.change.org/p/bdeblasio-cityhall-nyc-gov-oppose-the-morris-park-avenue-road-diet-plan

Updated 9:51 am, April 19, 2019
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