Mayor Eric Adams appears to have ordered the city’s Department of Transportation to reverse course on a planned redesign of McGuinness Boulevard after powerful locals and influential members of the administration voiced their opposition.
The mayor and city officials met to discuss the proposed redesign at City Hall last week, Streetsblog first reported. DOT’s plan for the street — which was finalized after months of community meetings — would have removed one vehicle lane in each direction in favor of a bike lane.
At that meeting, mayoral advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin reportedly told Adams that local businesses opposed the plan, and that the supporters of the plan all hailed from outside the area, according to news outlet The City.
By the time the meeting was over, Adams — who gave DOT’s initial proposal a thumbs-up earlier this year — had told agency officials to come up with an alternative.
The decision came weeks after a new campaign, “Keep McGuinness Moving,” took Greenpoint by storm. Headed by Broadway Stages and its owners, the Argento family, “Keep McGuinness Moving” urged the city to back down from the plan, insisting removing a vehicle traffic lane would damage the nabe’s many industrial businesses, including Broadway Stages.
Locals and street safety advocates spoke up as the campaign gained traction and momentum. Brooklyn Community Board 1, City Council Member Lincoln Restler and Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, among others, had supported the large-scale redesign of McGuinness Boulevard.
A spokesperson for Mayor Adams said traffic safety is a “key priority” for hizzoner, and that the city has made safety improvements to McGuinness Boulevard both during his mayoral administration and his tenure as Brooklyn Borough President.
“DOT has put forward a proposal to continue advancing that safety work,” the spox added. “They have participated in dozens of meetings over multiple years and are continuing to refine the proposal as they receive feedback from the community. All decisions are based on the merits of any issue.”
DOT representative Mona Bruno said the agency is “dedicated” to improving safety on roads like McGuinness.
“We’re reviewing community stakeholder feedback as we finalize the design,” Bruno said.
The agency referred Brooklyn Paper to City Hall for additional comment.
It was not immediately clear what, if any, alternatives will be proposed, or when they might be presented to the public. DOT had planned to begin implementing the redesign this summer, but neither the agency nor City Hall clarified how or if that timeline has been affected.
“Thank you, Mayor for hearing the concerns of 5,600+ residents and businesses,” Keep McGuinness Moving wrote in a July 6 tweet announcing the mayor’s decision. “Our voices are finally being heard! Now, we want to work alongside NYC DOT and to be included in all future endeavors.”
While some Greenpointers rejoiced, others despaired. To those who supported the redesign, Adams’ about-face means they’ll have to wait even longer to see changes made on a road that has seen dangerous speeding and deadly collisions.
“Obviously, we were shocked and tremendously disappointed but also confused,” said local Kevin LaCherra, a longtime supporter of the redesign. “There has been a two-year exhaustive, public, and democratic process. We have done everything right.”
Adams may not have a clear picture of what’s happening on the ground in Greenpoint, LaCherra added, where community leaders, the local parent-teacher association, and thousands of neighbors have spoken in support of the redesign.
More than 7,000 people — mostly Greenpointers — have signed a petition by local organization “Make McGuinness Safe,” urging the city to take action to reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths on the roadway.
On the other hand, roughly 4,000 people have signed a “Keep McGuinness Moving” petition calling for officials to toss the current plan and come up with an alternative that would retain all vehicle traffic lanes.
Last month, The City reported that Broadway Stages and the Argento family either own, or are associated with, dozens of local businesses and LLC’s directly tied to the Keep McGuinness Moving campaign.
Hundreds of people attended separate pro and anti-redesign events held on June 15.
“Are there people that have concerns about this? Absolutely,” he said. “But have those concerns been really ginned up by catastrophic rhetoric from people that have a monetary interest in seeing this not go through? Also yes.”
The longer a redesign is delayed, the more people will get hurt on McGuinness Boulevard, supporters say. On July 6, the day news of Adams’ decision broke, a 43-year-old man was hit by an SUV at the intersection of McGuinness and Calyer Street.
On July 13, supporters and local politicians will rally at City Hall, demanding Adams reinstitute the planned redesign.