Volume 76, Number 22 | October 18 - 24, 2006

Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

From left: Borough President Scott Stringer, Community Board 2’s Ian Dutton and Brad Hoylman and Vivian Awner of City Planning at Gansevoort project meeting.

Gansevoort project to study traffic, public spaces

By Albert Amateau

The title is a mouthful and the project itself is ambitious.

The Greater Gansevoort Urban Improvement Project, introduced at an Oct. 16 forum to an audience of Village and Chelsea community leaders, will take a comprehensive look at motor and pedestrian traffic in the area bounded by W. 16th and Gansevoort Sts. between Ninth Ave. and the Hudson River.

“We see the area around the Gansevoort Market as a special district with historic buildings and wide streets, open plazas and the potential to create welcoming public space,” said Jo Hamilton, a West Village resident and member of the project’s steering committee along with Florent Morellet, a Gansevoort Market restaurateur; Josh David, co-founder of Friends of the High Line; and Brad Hoylman and Jay Marcus, respective chairpersons of the transportation committees of Community Board 2 and 4.

Sam Schwartz, former commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation, and the Regional Plan Association are conducting a survey of the flow of vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the area as it changes over a 24-hour day and during an entire week.

In a district where nightlife, high-end retailing, art galleries and the remnant of the wholesale meat industry bring crowds of pedestrians, cabs and trucks to the area, the goals of the project include promoting pedestrian safety, reducing the negative impacts of vehicular traffic and creating a sense of place in the Gansevoort area.

With the proposed opening of the south end of the High Line park in 2008, the future will bring even more pedestrian use.

“You’re going to see survey people all over for the next couple of weeks,” said Schwartz. “They’ll be counting cabs at night, they’ll be counting trucks and they’ll be counting you walking in the streets,” he said. One of the problems, he noted, is that cars from city agencies frequently violate parking and traffic rules in the district.

Schwartz noted that some streets are as wide as 120 feet to 140 feet, “as wide as a six-lane highway,” and potential sites for pedestrian-vehicle conflict. “But with so much space, there are opportunities,” he added.

Schwartz and Tom Wright, R.P.A. vice president, both declared that there are no preconceived plans.

“This will be a community-generated process,” said Schwartz. With representatives from city D.O.T. and the Department of City Planning in the audience, Schwartz said, “The city agencies are with us every step of the way.”

Elected officials came to the forum to lend support. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Deborah Glick welcomed the project. Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler sent representatives.

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