New York City Congestion Battle Hits Roadblock In Court

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The New York Times reports that New York City’s ongoing plans to remake parts of Manhattan to be more pedestrian- and transit- friendly have run into opposition from neighborhood residents.

  • New York City is one of the most congested cities in the U.S.
  • The city has proposed closing a section of 14th Street to commuters but keeping the thoroughfare open for buses and emergency vehicles.
  • While the pilot plan to ease congestion sounds promising, a vocal group of residents sued to shut it down.
(Photo: Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash)

New York City is infamous for heinous traffic. According to the Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard, it has the fourth worst traffic among U.S. cities. Commuters spend 133 hours driving in congestion each year, costing each person nearly $2,000.

In an attempt to ease some of this traffic, New York City proposed giving 14th Street a break. On the busiest stretch, this crosstown thoroughfare takes on 21,000 vehicles a day. The plan would take cars off a one-mile section between Third and Ninth Avenues during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, except for drivers picking up and dropping off or making deliveries. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses, as well as trucks and emergency vehicles, would have the road all to themselves.

Residents fight back

Restricting traffic on an artery that’s clogged sounds like a reasonable idea to keep traffic moving. Except residents and block associations didn’t think so. They filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation (DOT) to stop the proposal. If cars couldn’t use 14th street, they said, then that traffic would divert onto smaller residential streets, bring with it all the noise, traffic and pollution.

The DOT planned the rollout on July 1 but was thwarted when a judge blocked the program. But the story doesn’t end there. That temporary order was lifted earlier this month, only to be reversed when a judge granted an appeal, stalling the plan again.


Big cities are experiencing debilitating traffic and need solutions. Creating an environment where public transportation becomes reliable and efficient encourages commuters to ditch their cars. These programs sound like positive steps to reduce congestion, except if it affects your neighborhood, which usually results in the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) syndrome. Do residents’ rights and desires trump the greater good? That remains to be seen.

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