Volume 22, Number 42 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | February 26 - March 4, 2010
Map by Downtown Express
This week the city revealed the proposed detours for the Chambers St. water main project starting in April or May. Eastbound vehicles turning off West St. will be able to use Murray St. instead of Chambers, above. Canal St. (not shown), 10 blocks north of the detour, is the second option.
City reveals Chambers St. detours
By Julie Shapiro
Two water main projects will close parts of Hudson and Chambers Sts. for years, and Tribeca residents are worried.
“It’s going to have a very negative impact on businesses and residents,” said Peter Braus, chairperson of Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee. “It’s not going to be good.”
The three-year Chambers St. job will begin in April or May and the five-and-a-half-year Hudson St. job will begin in the late summer. Shane Ojar, with the city Dept. of Design and Construction, did not sugarcoat the impact of the two projects when he presented details to the Tribeca Committee Feb. 17.
“Will there be noise? Yes,” Ojar said. “Will there be inconveniences? Yes. Will there be water shutoffs? Yes.”
Ojar compared the upcoming work to the city’s current reconstruction of Fulton St., which started two-and-a-half years ago and left residents complaining about late-night noise and small businesses complaining about lost foot traffic.
Liat Silberman, a Tribeca Committee member, said Fulton St. is “the worst possible example” of how a construction job should be run.
The community board is focusing on the Chambers St. project because that work is starting this spring. The city will reduce Chambers St. to one lane running westbound for the entire three-year project, which will replace a water main built in the 1880s and other utilities between Broadway and West St.
Some Tribeca residents feared that the city would use Warren St. as an eastbound detour for Chambers St., which they said would endanger children on their way to school at P.S./I.S. 89.
Nicole Garcia, spokesperson for the city Dept. of Transportation, told Downtown Express this week that Warren St. would not be a detour. Instead, Garcia said in an e-mail that eastbound traffic coming from the West Side Highway could use Canal St. or could turn onto Murray St., then take Greenwich St. south for one block, then continue east on Park Pl.
“That’s definitely the logical choice,” Bob Townley, a community board member and director of Manhattan Youth, said when told of the detour idea. Townley fought against a state plan several years ago to create a left-turn lane from southbound West St. onto Warren St., and he was glad to hear that the city would not try to bring the left-turn lane back near many students. Cars will be able to turn left onto Murray St. instead, which Townley said is safer.
Braus said he was skeptical that the city really needed to make all of Chambers St. one-way for three years, since the project will proceed in phases and the city will not tear up the entire street at once.
“They can’t just come in and impose by fiat that a major artery in our neighborhood will be one-way for three years,” Braus said at Tuesday night’s full board meeting.
Ojar previously said it would be too confusing to drivers to have some of Chambers St. one-way and some of it two-way.
Board members are also concerned about the Hudson St. project, which will replace aging water mains in north Tribeca and connect them to the new Third Water Tunnel. The first phase of the project starting in the late summer will include six months of work on West St. between Hubert and Laight Sts. and three years of work on Hudson St. between Hubert and Laight Sts., along with some side streets. The next phase of work will include two-and-a-half years of work on Hudson St. between Worth and Hubert Sts., along with side streets.
“It’s really mind-boggling,” said Bruce Ehrmann, a community board member. “This is the main artery to the Holland Tunnel, which is completely backed up most rush hours…. It’s just unbelievable that this is going to happen.”
The city promised to keep at least two of Hudson St.’s four lanes open during the project. Ojar said the contractor may put metal plates over the parts of the street that are under construction to allow additional lanes to open during rush hour, but it is unclear how often that will happen.
C.B. 1 hopes to organize a community meeting on the water main projects near the beginning of March. Downtown Express first reported on the pending Hudson St. project a year ago and on the Chambers St. work in January.