Volume 17 • Issue 36 • Jan. 28 — February 3, 2005

Two boards mull idea to alter bus traffic near Holland Tunnel

By Nancy Reardon

Two Lower Manhattan community boards have teamed up to tackle traffic headaches caused by bus traffic heading to the Holland Tunnel, but some community members say that the buses are only a small part of the problem.

Holland Tunnel traffic has been an ongoing issue for people who live, work or commute near any of the approach roads. Community Boards 1 and 2, which share jurisdiction over Canal St., have teamed up to ask the Canal Area Traffic Study committee to propose short and long-term solutions.

“This is a very dangerous crossing,” said David Lai, an employee of Matrix Graphics Inc. at 52-54 Watts St. for 10 years. “After 2:30, the traffic is real bad. The cars and buses just line up.”

C.B. 2 already has a specific proposal in mind. The plan involves re-routing the bus traffic headed for the Holland Tunnel from Watts St. to the north side of Canal St. Tobi Bergman of C.B. 2’s traffic committee, who lives in the area at the corner of Varick and Sixth Ave., presented the plan to C.B.1’s Tribeca Committee at its Jan. 6 meeting. He said that the line of buses on Watts St. is too disruptive for a mostly residential area.

“Buildings that were built 150 years ago shake from the bus traffic,” he said.

Members of the Tribeca Committee expressed support for their neighbors in C.B. 2, but did not vote to approve this particular plan.

But not everyone at the meeting was in favor of the C.B.2 idea. Michelle Landino, an employee of 100 Sixth Avenue near the corner of Watts, said the proposal does more than re-direct the problem by overlooking it. “The buses don’t really add to the problem here,” said Landino. “It’s the cars. This is not a solution.”

She suggested that the area adopt a carpool policy instead.

Amy Lee, manager of Mooncake Foods at 28 Watts St., agreed. “I see the bus traffic, but I don’t see an overabundance of bus traffic,” she said. “The people honking in the cars are most disruptive.”

NYC Elite, a gymnastics center at the intersection, brings younger pedestrians to the area. “Maybe re-routing the buses would help, but we have problems with the traffic in general,” said owner Tina Ferriola. “We have parents and kids who have to zig-zag through traffic. It’s just a very dangerous situation.”

She said that students as young as 12 years old cross the intersection by themselves in the afternoon.

Bergman said that re-routing the bus traffic to Canal St. would open up the right lane on Watts Str. to cars, hopefully alleviating the evening back-ups.

Tiffany Townsend, spokesperson for the Port Authority, which controls the Holland Tunnel area, said that concerns over the bus traffic are not new. “We’re certainly open to reviewing any proposal and seeing if it’s viable,” she said.

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