New York City's 14th Street will be turned into a pedestrian and mass-transit thoroughfare as part of an 18-month experiment to improve cross-town traffic at the northern edge of Lower Manhattan.
While the ban isn't universal, it will prohibit through traffic on 14th Street between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm. Residents and business owners will still have access to the street, and pick-ups and drop-offs will be permitted. The ban goes into effect on Thursday.
The only other vehicles with access will be the crosstown M14 bus line, which is currently one of the city's slowest routes, and emergency services. Advocates of the plan hope the vehicle restrictions will dramatically improve service on the M14 line.
Locals are concerned that the ban will simply divert traffic to neighboring roads, resulting in no net gain.
"New Yorkers who ride the M14 are about to see their bus line transformed from one of the city’s slowest, into one of the fastest, practically overnight," Thomas DeVito, director of advocacy for Transportation Alternatives, told Bloomberg in a Sunday report.
Transportation Alternatives is a group pushing for policies to reduce personal vehicle use and encourage public transit and other forms of personal mobility within New York City.
"This should bring an end to the legal shenanigans that have been holding up these improvements for months on end," DeVito said.
The plan was held up by a temporary restraining order brought by neighboring residents. A state appellate court panel ruled 3-2 to end that order, paving the way for implementation starting Thursday even as legal action continues in an attempt to halt the experiment.
New York City is one of several cities studying methods for reducing congestion. New York City may be among the first in the United States to implement congestion charges in its most crowded zones, but those efforts also face stiff opposition from local businesses and commuters alike.