Neighborhood road design could impact commuters

Metro-North says it was never told about proposed Riverdale Ave changes, and MTA is now hungry

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Travelers who ride on Metro-North’s Hudson Rail Link bus line might have a longer commute if the city’s transportation department goes forward with the proposed Riverdale Avenue Road redesign this summer.

“This may impede the reliability of bus travel schedules including the Metro-North Rail Link,” Community Board 8 chair Laurie Spalter said. “The numbers 7,10,18, M1, and M2 (buses) turn around at the city line and park while they wait for their routes to start.”

The transit agency agreed to work together with the DOT to implement a plan that works for everyone, including the MTA customers.

“The MTA is reviewing the DOT’s proposal for Riverdale Avenue to assess any impacts on bus service, including the Hudson Rail Link,”  MTA spokesperson David Steckel told The Press, “The authority shares DOT’s commitment to safety and has an ongoing collaborative partnership with DOT to deliver improved bus service citywide.”

A day after a March 31 Community Board 8 meeting, Spalter, emailed the DOT to request their traffic studies on the project.

“I was told by acting (Bronx borough DOT) commissioner Keith Kalb that he would send them, but I have not received them (yet),” Spalter wrote to The Riverdale Press.

After waiting patiently, on April 27 Spalter decided to check in with the Metro-North Railroad regarding the impact on the link — a passenger connection between Riverdale and the Metro-North trains. It picks up passengers on West 261 Street to transferto the Riverdale station on West 255th Street. The rail leads the passengers to Grand Central Terminal.

In a March 31 virtual meeting, the CB 8 Traffic and Transportation Committee voted against the DOT “safety calming” road redesign on Riverdale Avenue between West 254th and West 263rd streets. More than 200 people attended the meeting, with many voicing their displeasure.

After the proposal was shared, an overwhelming amount of CB 8 members were not convinced about the proposed change to convert four travel lanes into two while a third would become a turning center bay in addition to bike lanes on both sides.

In response to Spalter, Metro-North officials claimed they did not have any knowledge of the Riverdale Avenue redesign. They agreed with the chair that this would undoubtedly impact the Riverdale Hudson Rail Link route.

Spalter said the system works fine now but eliminating travel lanes and narrowing the street can delay the commutes of vehicular and transit travelers. The new plan may encroach on the sole travel lane.

The DOT finds the project important because there were multiple reports of accidents on Riverdale Avenue.

According to city data, there were 19 reported accidents and 25 injuries on this road in the past three years.

In addition to the possible commuter problem, CB8 members and residents are concerned about the possible traffic congestion.

The Riverdale elementary school P.S. 81 Robert J. Christen school already has  lots of traffic in the morning and afternoon hours as parents pick up and drop off their children.

Parent coordinator Nina Velazquez told The Riverdale Press in March that parents sometimes triple park to drop or pick up their children during the rush hour. Buses that travel on Riverdale Avenue may face a possible obstacle course if the plan goes through.

New York City Transit bus planning contacted the DOT to have a meeting about the redesign. The DOT has yet to respond.

Spalter formally wrote to Kalb requesting a meeting to discuss the plan with representatives with the MTA, DOT and CB8. She is worried the DOT will begin their plan without delay.

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