Work to revamp Broadway corridor begins in April


Many members of the business and residential community came out last year to protest changes the city's transportation department planned for the stretch of Broadway along Van Cortlandt Park. 

But the opposition wasn't enough, as transportation officials tell Community Board 8 work to transform that portion of Broadway into something they say is more pedestrian-friendly will begin next month.

Although CB8's hands are now tied, that won't stop them from at least opening a public conversation about the changes — even if it's nothing more than to let off steam. To that end, CB8's traffic and tranportation committee will discuss the Broadway corridor plans March 20 at 7:30 p.m., at Downey's Bar & Grill, 5790 Mosholu Ave.

DOT's plan would, simply, narrow some of the travel lanes, change some of the pedestrian crossings to and from Vannie to make them safer, and add bicycle lanes to both sides of the road, they said.

But after hours of debate in June, CB8 rejected the idea — although its opinion is not binding.

"I think the most troubling thing for this entire proposal that I have seen is the lack of collaboration with DOT," CB8 member Steven Sarao said at the time. "The fact that many voices — be it the parking, the merchants and the people who use the park — so many of those voices came forward at these meetings, and it didn't seem to me there was some common respect shown to those voices."

DOT officials said using that portion of Broadway is dangerous because of how fast cars go through that part of North Riverdale, and how long the crosswalks are between the homes and businesses on the west side of Broadway, and Van Cortlandt Park on the east.

One resident, Tara McMaster, agreed something needs to be done with Broadway — but the plan to install bicycle lanes and narrow lanes is not exactly what she had in mind.

"The new 'improvements' on Broadway are going to make traffic a nightmore, and shoppers will simply take their business elsewhere," McMaster wrote in an opinion piece published in The Riverdale Press last June. "Emergency responders, firefighters and EMS are going to have delayed response times."

But not all CB8 members were against DOT's proposals. In their own opinion piece published in The Press last July, Bob Bender and Robert Fanuzzi warned that if something isn't done soon, it will never be done, and that portion of Broadway will remain dangerous.

"Setting aside so much space for parked cars has proven not to be the best use of the street," the two wrote. "It allows drivers to speed and weave, making the street unnecessarily dangerous, and invites double parking. The DOT plan rededicates this excess roadway space to transportation, incporporating accessible bus stops."

In fact, the major cause of traffic congesion on Broadway, Bender and Fanuzzi said, were double-parked buses and vans that bring in people to visit the park.

The DOT plan, which is available here, will continue as originally proposed, CB8 said, when construction starts next month.

UPDATE 3/13/18 — The meeting was rescheduled for March 20, and will now take place immediately after the public safety committee meeting, which has been moved to Downey's as well.