Old Fulton Street may soon become an open, smog-free zone.
Gigantic idling tour buses — and the noxious fumes they spew — will be booted from Old Fulton Street under the city’s new plan to transform the popular thoroughfare into a pedestrian-friendly gateway to the waterfront.
The city’s Department of Transportation unveiled a redesign for the street — which includes a public plaza, expanded sidewalks and landscaped medians — on June 21, claiming that the plan’s main goals is to keep buses and limousines from illegally parking on the street.
Residents hailed the city plan, which will be presented to the community before the end of July and could break ground as early as September.
“This is a major step in addressing a community need,” said Joan Zimmerman, president of the Fulton Ferry Landing Association. “Try and think about having dozens of tour buses in every part of the road you can imagine. It’s a very significant quality of life issue.”
Ever since Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 opened last year, more and more traffic has come to Old Fulton Street, with vehicles illegally parking on the street’s striped median markings, residents say. They also charge that tour buses and cars often drop sightseers off on all parts of the wide street, which spans from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Now that the city’s new ferry service stops at Fulton Ferry Landing, the area has only gotten busier, they say.
Under the planned revamp, the city will install raised, tree-filled concrete medians near the BQE and Water Street to prevent illegal parking and idling.
Old Fulton Street will also get bicycle lanes and new crosswalks and signals at Water and Furman streets. The sidewalk on the north side of the street between Water and Front streets will be widened into a plaza, although the parking lane adjacent to it will remain.
A city Department of Transportation official said widening the sidewalk isn’t just to give the never-ending line of pizza lovers always found outside of Grimaldi’s some breathing room — it will support all businesses on the street.
Richard Mauro, president of the Fulton Ferry Business Association, couldn’t wait for the changes to begin.
“This is going to bring out the openness of the area,” he said. “As long as we get the pedestrian traffic, that’s what we’re interested in.”
The city will divert all tour buses to Furman Street and work with the MTA to reroute the B25 bus so it will no longer have to make U-turns at the end of Old Fulton Street.
But proposals to mitigate traffic on Old Fulton Street are nothing new. Earlier this year, the city installed “No Parking” signs — and stepped up enforcement — at the entrance to the park near Furman Street. Locals say tour bus and commercial vehicle drivers largely ignore the signage.