Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Smith and Ninth: Averting Disaster

From the comments, the intrepid Cap'n Transit has some creative suggestions for the MTA to mitigate the impacts of the Smith/9th station rehab (station closed for nine months . . . and that's if there are no delays).

First things first: MTA has to do a better job of outreach on a project like this. The Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association didn't have any warning that this was coming: the first any of us heard of it was from the Metro article last week. But it's not too late. The station work is expected to take place in 2010; there is still time to get community input on the necessary mitigation efforts.

First off, running a shuttle bus directly from Smith and Ninth into the Battery Tunnel and out to the Fulton Street Transit corridor is a must. Second, there should be some shuttle service to 4th Avenue for those who are doing a reverse commute. Simply running a shuttle back and forth between Carroll Street and Smith/Ninth is unacceptable.

Long term, as Cap'n Transit suggests, a tunnel would be nice; however the limiting factor (besides the obvious cost) is topography. The train would have to take a pretty massive dip under the Gowanus Canal, and the relative elevations at Carroll Street and in Windsor Terrace are pretty high. Thus, the ride would be a bit of a roller coaster along that stretch, and steep tunnels are tough for the trains to handle.

I could be wrong about that last bit, I understand that to be the problem.


Cap'n Transit said...

Thanks for the link, Gary! I'm glad you like my idea for buses in the Battery tunnel. Like your F express campaign, it takes some repetition for a good idea to catch on, so I hope everyone who likes this idea will keep repeating it!

That's a very good point about the difficulty of tunnelling from Park Slope down below the Gowanus and then back up again to Carroll Gardens. I don't know what the exact grades would be, but you're probably right.

My main goal was to think of the most expensive, disruptive solution that I could, to put the other suggestions in perspective. Is taking Smith Street over for a one-year temporary busway too far out to consider? Well, it's not as far out as replacing the viaduct with a tunnel.

Your idea about running shuttle buses to the Fourth Avenue station for reverse commuters is also a good one. That would also provide some flexibility for people headed into Manhattan, since they could take the M or the R.

gary said...

Hey Cap'n, shoot me an email to firstandcourt at gmail dot com

so we can correspond in the future.

I am a big fan of burying the Gowanus Expressway viaduct and including a designated BRT lane . . . eliminate smog, reunite the neighborhoods, and by dedicating the bus lane, speeding up the commutes for those team oplayers who opt for mass transit.

The current DEIS does not have the optimal plan however. If we're going to spend that kind of money, it has to be done right.

Cap'n Transit said...

Okay, I sent you an email. Please do keep in touch!

I do have to disagree with you about the Gowanus tunnel idea. I think that highway is awful and should be torn down, but I'm just not sure that a tunnel would be the best replacement.

Thinking long-term, imagine that in fifty or a hundred years it's too expensive for all but the wealthiest ten percent of New York residents to own a car. Now you've got this big ugly tunnel and what do you do with it? I suppose you could convert it to a train tunnel. I'm just not sure it's worth the money.

Also, that highway is the source of so much of what's awful about Downtown and South Brooklyn. Imagine Atlantic Avenue without so much traffic headed to and from the BQE.

I haven't been following the EIS process, but my hope would be that any tunnel would have no more capacity than the current highway. Dedicated bus lanes would probably be the only redeeming feature - especially if they can be retrofitted for light rail.

In any case, we've got the same goals, we just differ about how to accomplish them. And we agree that we don't want that damn Gowanus viaduct endlessly repaired, or rebuilt.

Keep up the good work!