By NATHAN DUKE
The city Department of Transportation’s Clear Curbs initiative along Roosevelt Avenue—a program aimed at reducing traffic congestion along the commercial strip—will be terminated by the end of the week. Local leaders said that the program ended up hurting local businesses and putting residents at risk.
The six-month pilot program, which was implemented in March, aimed to reduce traffic along Roosevelt Avenue by prohibiting deliveries and standing on both sides of the street between Broadway and 90th Street during rush hours. The initiative was meant to decrease congestion on the strip by preventing cars from blocking lanes of traffic and expediting the pickup and dropoff of passengers.
But community leaders said that the program inconvenienced businesses during peak hours and caused some safety concerns.
“This program was instituted to drive down congestion along Roosevelt Avenue in Queens and other major thoroughfares in Midtown and Brooklyn—but, in practice, it left small businesses decimated and put nearby residents at risk as delivery trucks pushed off the main roads flooded into residential side streets,” Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Corona) said. “This is a welcome relief for the affected residents and small-business owners. Time after time, small-business owners told me they feared they wouldn’t survive the six-month pilot period.”
In May, Moya, Councilman Mark Gjonaj (D-Bronx)—who is the chairman of the City Council’s Committee for Small Business—and Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo (D-Brooklyn) introduced the Protect NYC Jobs and Businesses Act in response to the Clear Curbs initiative. The measure would require city agencies to notify affected community boards, business improvement districts and local Council members of projects that would disrupt street usage, and give local leaders the opportunity to voice their concerns or suggestions.
In June, three months into the Clear Curbs program, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and representatives from the city’s Police Department joined Moya, Gjonaj and Assemblywoman Ari Espinal (D-Jackson Heights) on a tour of Roosevelt Avenue to see how the pilot program had affected local store owners.
“The last few months have been extremely difficult for the many small businesses that operate along Roosevelt Avenue and adjacent streets,” said Leslie Ramos, the executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership, a neighborhood development organization that is responsible for managing and promoting the area’s business improvement district (BID), which oversees nearly 200 businesses. “Now that the program is over, we look forward to working with the city to help this once-vibrant corridor bounce back.”
Philip Papas, the chairman of Community Board 3, said that several businesses closed or were on the verge of closing due to the Clear Curbs program.
“While the program’s intention was to reduce traffic congestion, its impact to our local businesses was devastating,” Papas said. “The negative effects of the project outweighed any potential positive outcome.”
Reach editor-in-chief Nathan Duke via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.