April 13, 2018 By Tara Law
The Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to combat congestion along Austin Street by adding truck loading zones, tweaking parking regulations and adding new crosswalks.
Representatives from the DOT presented the proposed changes before Community Board 6 Wednesday evening and said the plan would combat congestion caused by trucks double parking, pedestrians crossing mid-block and limited parking availability.
The plan targets Austin Street between 69th Road and 72nd Road. (click for DOT plan)
The DOT said that it plans to tackle the double-parking problem by creating nine 60-foot long loading zones that would take up to 27 parking spaces over the course of the day along Austin and adjacent streets.
“We want to dedicate commercial space at the curb so trucks can access, do their deliveries and keep moving,” said Matt Garcia, a project manager for the Austin Street initiative.
The plan also looks to add new crosswalks at various intersections to reduce jaywalking, although the actual locations are still being determined.
Additionally, the DOT’s proposal would amend parking rules to disincentivize drivers from parking for long periods. For instance, the plans would extend metered parking from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. to discourage cars from parking overnight in busy areas.
The DOT said that the various alterations would be implemented over the course of the spring. Following installation, the changes would be evaluated in six months, the officials said.
The project was first presented to the community in February and after receiving feedback the DOT made several significant alterations. The DOT has reduced the number of truck loading zones—from 12 to nine— to preserve parking. The 12 loading zones would have taken 36 spaces. The DOT has also shifted the location of some of the zones.
The loading zones would be in place Monday to Friday for specific times each day.
During the morning— which will be from 8:30 or 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.— the DOT would use all nine loading zones taking up 27 parking spaces. During the second bracket— 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.— it would use seven loading zones taking up 21 spaces. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., there would be one loading zoning in use taking up three spaces.
Several business owners spoke up after the DOT’s presentation to say that they are skeptical of the plans, despite the alterations.
Barry Rothenburg, an Austin Street property owner, said that he’s worried the loss of spots will hurt business.
“Once those signs are up, no one will park there,” Rothenburg said of the loading zone signs. “People have a fear of it and it will effectively kill the street.”
The DOT discussed several proposals intended to cut down the time that vehicles are parked in the area in order to open up spaces.
“In general, there’s just nowhere to park,” said Garcia. “There’s just so much going on Austin Street— if you ever have to find a parking space it’s really difficult.”
The DOT also aims to introduce a program that would permit drivers to park for a third hour to discourage long-term parking. The first two hours will cost the customary $1 per hour, and the third hour will cost $2.
Several community board members asked if the program would stop someone from discarding the first ticket instead of paying the extra dollar. Project manager Al Silvestri said that the program is intended make it easier for drivers to follow the law instead of meter feeding.
“It’s a disincentive,” Silvestri said. “We know meter feeding is something that happens in the city. We’re working as we move forward with technology. We can’t prevent it but we do think it’s a deterrent.”
The DOT also plans to increase the number of parking spaces that are available in the evenings by expanding the number of metered spots until 10 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. The change is intended to cut down on the number of cars that are parked overnight during times the spots are needed by restaurant and movie theater patrons.
Finally, the DOT discussed plans to add “enhanced” crosswalks— with ramps, bold markings and warning signs to Austin Street’s intersections at 70th Ave., 72nd Ave., 72nd Rd. and 71st Rd. The locations are still being finalized.