(New York - Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) The New York Times gives big play today to the proposed changes on 34th Street. The DOT plans have been around for a couple of years, but we caught up with Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan when she spoke at a conference on Bus Rapid Transit at New York University in February. The plan calls for a pedestrian/bus-only zone between 5th and 6th Avenues, and eastbound car-traffic only from 5th Avenue, westbound only from 6th Avenue. You may have heard about the plan back then on WNYC News, but here's a bit more: the full audio of my interview with the Commissioner from February 24, where she describes the plan, which she calls "really cool"
And here's a transcript:
JSK: When you're moving from the West Side to the East Side, as you know, that's some of the slowest buses in the city. You can walk across town faster than you can take the bus. And so we are really providing in an area that has a lot of inter-modal transfers, a lot of people at Penn Station looking to go further west and taking a look a the demands moving towards the Empire State Building, first Avenue and toward the U.N.
AB: In the slide that you showed it looked to me like it was a pedestrian plaza.
JSK: Yes, between 5th and 6th.
AB: Oh. So 5th and 6th is a pedestrian plaza. Fifth goes east, sixth goes west. So it's two lanes of buses either way?
JSK: You can go look at the designs on our website, so you can take a look at what that plan view is, which makes it a little clearer. Not unlike Broadway, it's sort of a little counterintuitive in terms of how you're going to incorporate a dedicated right of way and handle the traffic on an east west basis. So we were able to come up with a unique design that fits into the corridor in a whole new way.
AB: And when is that happening?
JSK: We're looking for 2012.
AB: So is that going to link then to the Herald Square Pedestrian Plaza?
JSK: Yes, it's going to go right by it.
AB: So you could be in the pedestrian plaza from fifth Avenue right up to around Macy'?
JSK: Yes, you should take a look at the designs, because we've got the footprint all laid out. It's going to be very cool, I can show it to you...just this gives you a better --
AB: So that's the one you showed, that's 5th to 6th.
JSK: Yes, and the piece we're going to be able to do, we're going to actually be able to reclaim that and still be able the handle the traffic along this corridor. This is going to be a big - a huge investment in the public realm, which that part of town, as you know, is sort of starved for quality public space. So you're bringing the mobility improvements, you're making the traffic flow and you're getting a nice bus rapid transit corridor. That will probably be the first real bus rapid transit corridor in New York City, because we'll have the fully dedicated lane.
AB: Segregated ferry to ferry?
AB: Thank you.