Construction on compromise McGuinness Boulevard redesign to begin next week

cars on mcguinness boulevard
The Department of Transportation will start construction on the McGuinness Boulevard redesign next week, the agency announced on Tuesday.
File photo by Kirstyn Brendlen

Construction on the long-awaited redesign of Greenpoint’s McGuinness Boulevard will start in the first week of September, the city’s Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.

Work on the first northern half of the road — from the Pulaski Bridge to Calyer Street — is slated to be completed by the end of the year. Ydanis Rodriguez, commissioner of the DOT, said the the design “will save lives.”

Local residents and advocacy group “Make McGuinness Safe” campaigned for safety improvements to the deadly four-lane road for over two years following the death of local school teacher Matthew Jensen, who was killed in a hit-and-run in 2021 on the road.

mcguinness boulevard march
Supporters of the redesign rallied to urge the city to move forward with their plan in June. File photo by Gabriele Holtermann

After first announcing a final plan in May, the DOT unveiled a compromised version of its planned redesign earlier this month after Mayor Eric Adams asked officials to return to the drawing board following an uptick in criticism by opposition group “Keep McGuinness Moving” — a coalition of local businesses led by Broadway Stages.

“Our design for McGuinness Boulevard will save lives and make this corridor much easier to navigate for everyone, including drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “We are committed to reducing traffic deaths on dangerous corridors like McGuinness Boulevard and look forward to bringing these designs that have proven to enhance safety. We thank Mayor Adams, the elected officials, and the community for their support in this project.”

The northern segment of the project, running from the Pulaski Bridge to Calyer Street, will will feature two peak-hour vehicle travel lanes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and protected bike lanes in each direction. During off-peak hours the right lane in each direction will serve as a parking lane.

Bicycle lane protection will be a mix of barriers and flexible delineators to allow for passengers to access the curb, according to DOT.

Construction on the southern portion of the 1.5 mile boulevard, from Calyer Street to Meeker Avenue, is slated to begin early next year, after the northern portion is wrapped up. It will feature one vehicle travel lane in each direction in addition to a parking protected bike lane in each direction.

proposed mcguinness redesign
The compromised redesign split McGuinness into two portions, each with a different design. Image courtesy of NYC DOT

New pedestrian islands at each crosswalk will shorten pedestrian crossings by 23% and discourage cut-through traffic where recent fatalities have occurred, according the DOT.

The agency also said it will also be installing dedicated loading zones to better accommodate residential and commercial deliveries, as well as “offset crossings” at intersections to “naturally calm vehicular turns” and reduce conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.

Between Bayard Street and Meeker Avenue, where McGuinness Boulevard connects to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the project will add new pedestrian connections across the BQE ramp and down to Meeker while also slowing vehicle turns onto the BQE ramp.

Crews will be in Greenpoint this week to flyer the corridor from Pulaski Bridge to Calyer Street notifying residents of the upcoming construction, as well as the removing obstructions on the roadway such as granite blocks, plastic delineators, and bike racks.

On Tuesday, Make McGuinness Safe — which had been urging Adams to act before the first day of school on Sept. 7 — said the plan is “far from perfect,” and said a “much more effective and safe plan” would have been implemented if not for Broadway Stages.

Keep McGuinness Moving, on the other hand, took to social media to share plans for a Sept. 12. “March to Keep McGuinness Moving,” urging locals to join in and “show [Mayor] EricAdams just how many of us are opposed to the proposed plans presented by DOT.” 

“We see and understand the proposed new plan, and we cannot agree that it will be safer for pedestrians and bikers, nor will it maintain the commercial access the community needs to ensure business flow,” Keep McGuinness Moving said in a statement. “We will continue promoting our ideas and ideals that are more productive and safer.”

Update 08/30.2023, 6:09 p.m.: This story has been updated to include comment from Keep McGuinness Moving.