Easing of Traffic Rules Fails to Impress Drivers

Posted on December 12, 2002 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

Recent driving restrictions along busy 59th Street in NYC, part of an ambitious plan by the Bloomberg administration to help speed traffic through Midtown, were slightly eased. But according to some chauffeurs, it's not enough.

"It's a terrible rule to begin with, and it's not working," said Terry Conroy, a limousine chauffeur who has driven in Manhattan for 11 years. "Certain regulations complicate things," he said. "This is one of them."

In late October, the administration tried to turn 10 Midtown streets (between 36th and 60th Streets) into express routes by banning turns from them between Third Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas from 10am to 6pm on weekdays. But along 59th Street, the program caused problems from the onset, in part because of a huge construction project for the new headquarters of Bloomberg L.P., the company founded by the mayor.

Turns are once again allowed along the length of 59th Street. Drivers are also able to make turns from the nine other streets onto Park Avenue.

Although the program got off to a bumpy start, officials said they were pleased with its progress. "After an initial adjustment period, the program worked in many ways as expected," said Iris Weinshall, the transportation commissioner.

According to the administration, the average travel time between Third Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas on the nine streets other than 59th Street has decreased from slightly over nine miniutes to a little less than eight minutes, even as the average volume of vehicles traveling across those streets in the same time rose from 3,700 to 4,000.

"We're looking to improve the traffic flow, and the commissioner is being thoughtful about it," said City Councilman John Liu, chairman of the Council's Transportation Committee. "There's been some feedback from the public, and they're making some adjustments. If more adjustments are needed, then the public should be more vocal."

Several drivers allowed that the changes might help a bit, but had few kind words for the program overall.

"There's no way to make deliveries after 10am," said Leonardo Corela, who was making a delivery near 59th Street and Madison Avenue. "We're driving around and around wasting time. It doesn't work at all."

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