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After months of delays, Manhattan is finally getting the 181st Street busway that Mayor Bill de Blasio promised last summer.
The planned overhaul — which is set to launch April 26 — will bar most cars, taxis and vans from a half-mile of the Washington Heights thoroughfare, in a bid to improve access for buses, trucks and first responders.
The new restrictions will extend from Broadway to Amsterdam Ave. when traveling east on 181st St. and from Amsterdam to Wadsworth Avenue when heading west — all with the goal of shortening commutes for the 42,000 people who ride the routes on that stretch.
Officials also say it will improve connections between the A train and the 1 train and six additional north-south bus lines.
The improvements have been long in coming. Currently, buses are stuck in traffic so bad they average just 4 mph.
Hizzoner named 181st Street as one of five notoriously congested stretches that would get “urgent” busways improvements last June as the city began the first phase of its reopening after the initial wave coronavirus pandemic left thousands dead.
Fears of the deadly airborne virus had led New Yorkers to largely abandon the subway system — and pushed many essential workers in this transit-dependent city onto buses, though the trains have since been proven safe.
The improvements were modeled after the popular bus-only program imposed pre-pandemic on 14th Street in Manhattan, which dramatically sped crosstown bus service and improved ridership.
However, the busway rollout was mired in delays — largely attributed to neighborhood opposition — that left transit activists and straphangers frustrated.
The busway on Main Street in Queens launched seven months late in January. However, early returns released Friday show the much-delayed project significantly boosted bus speeds by as much as 31 percent during the p.m. rush.
De Blasio’s program also extended the decades-old Fulton Mall busway — the city’s first — to include a traffic-clogged portion of Jay Street.
However, the remaining two busways de Blasio proposed in that June 8th press conference on the Brooklyn waterfront have met different fates.
The proposal to convert Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was dramatically scaled back to just a bus lane down the famed corridor.
And the proposed busway overhaul for Jamaica Avenue in Queens remains stuck on the drawing board.
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