Will York Avenue Ever Become One-Way?

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What would happen if York Avenue were to become a one-way street? Six years ago, Community Board 8 and the Department of Transportation asked that very same question when they issued a traffic study along York Avenue. The study, done by Sam Schwartz PLLC, was meant to come to a conclusion about mitigating congestion from York from East 62nd Street to 72nd Street, the "hospital corridor," where Rockefeller University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York Presbyterian Weill Medical College of Cornell University and the Hospital for Special Surgery are located. One of the conclusions of the study was to make York Avenue a one-way street. According to former Community Board 8 member and neighborhood activist, Betty Wallerstein, people were wary of the idea when it first arose. Now, she said, the idea has surfaced again at a recent Transportation Committee meeting at Community Board 8. The committee, she said, voted in favor of requesting a new traffic study. In response to questioning about the one-way rumors a DOT spokesperson simply said: "We are reviewing Community Board 8's request that DOT study the corridor," and would not give any further information. The Department of Transportation will allegedly re-visit the issue in October. The original study from 2007 said that one of the options for mitigating traffic would be to make York Avenue a one-way for 9, 19 or 26 blocks, according to the press release posted on Rockefeller University's website. At the time, the hospitals were opposed to the idea. Today, a representative from Rockefeller University claimed not to know about this new study. "The last we've heard of a proposal to make York one way was about five years ago; we were opposed to it then," said Zack Veilleux, a representative from Rockefeller University. "I haven't heard of anything since then, and I'm not sure what our stance on it would be now." But Wallerstein said that creating the one-way corridor may even be worse today. "When I mention this idea to people, they say 'that's crazy and ridiculous.' York is the only two-way street" besides Park Avenue," said Wallerstein. York is so essential and it is highly residential. Plus, besides the hospitals, you have schools around here too. How are ambulances going to easily get to and from the hospital?" If York Avenue were made into a one-way, ambulances would have to travel down Second Avenue, which would take a lot longer to transport emergency victims. In addition, the decision would create less congestion, but more traffic flow, according to Wallerstein, which would disrupt the residential area of the neighborhood. Wallerstein has said that she has suggested getting rid of parking in the corridor instead, to create another lane of traffic. Community Board 8 did not respond in time with a comment about York Avenue, and the voting measure does not appear on the transportation committee's agenda.

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