The city Department of Transportation’s plan to convert Flushing’s Main Street corridor into a busway has been halted by a Queens Supreme Court judge after critics of the busway filed a lawsuit.
Judge Kevin Kerrigan issued a temporary restraining order against the DOT, blocking the installation of signage or any markings until a decision is made on whether the project can move forward.
The DOT began work on the Main Street busway on Nov. 10, painting new bike lane markings on Sanford Avenue between Kissena Boulevard and Main Street.
— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) November 10, 2020
The plan has been met with opposition from local business leaders, who said that the majority of shoppers visiting the bustling district are motorists. They fear the busway could lead to a decline in revenue and shoppers, severely impacting businesses.
Peter Tu, of the Flushing Chinese Business Association, said after trying to negotiate with the DOT, there was no choice but to file a lawsuit against the city.
“I really tried. I don’t want to challenge an agency of the city, but I had to challenge the DOT here in Queens because they don’t want to listen to the people,” Tu said. “I’ve had business owners call me every day, saying they would lose a lot of money and they have to pay their rent. Small businesses cannot survive if this plan moves forward.”
The city’s plan includes adding a busway to a 0.3-mile northbound stretch of Main Street, where it meets the terminus of the 7 train.
The street features bus and truck priority treatments in the southbound direction that have resulted in a 23 percent increase in bus speeds between 2017 and 2018, according to City Hall. The street features bus and truck priority treatments in the southbound direction that have resulted in a 23 percent increase in bus speeds between 2017 and 2018, according to City Hall.
In response to today’s court injunction, transportation advocates of the plan said the needs of more than 100,000 daily bus riders are being held up by spurious legal actions filed by a small group of well-resourced opponents.
“Today’s temporary restraining order stands in the way of a 23 percent increase in bus speeds that would benefit 155,000 weekday bus riders on Main Street,” the advocates said in a statement. “This delay in basic and necessary transit improvements is hurting many low-income New Yorkers who rely on several bus routes running through downtown Flushing.”
The group said that the Main Street busway will connect riders with six hospitals and over 3,400 essential worksites like pharmacies, grocery stores and delivery services.
“Delaying the busway means delaying the daily commutes of essential workers who risked their health to keep New York City running during the first shutdown,” the group said. “As New York City stares down a second wave of coronavirus infections and potential lockdowns, slowing down this project puts essential workers at risk.”
A court date is set for Dec. 21 for Judge Kerrigan to hear the arguments and issue a final decision on whether the project can proceed, according to Tu.