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Elected officials call on mayor to ease commuter traffic congestion

A vocal chorus of elected officials is demanding that Mayor Bill de Blasio take a closer look at congested roadways from Lower Manhattan through Brooklyn and onto Staten Island.

The pols, citing long commutes on the part of constituents, asked the mayor to help find ways to alleviate chronic rush hour tie-ups and rectify problems with the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes traversing Brooklyn and Staten Island.

City Councilmember Justin Brannan, along with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo, who represents portions of Staten Island, and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who represents Sunset Park and Red Hook, have started by asking for a meeting with de Blasio to discuss problems with, and potential improvements to, travel between the boroughs.

The delays, they say, begin during rush hour at the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, which the elected officials’ constituents traverse in both private vehicles and New York City Transit (NYCT) buses.

They additionally requested that both the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) participate in the brainstorming session with the mayor.

“We realize there is no panacea that will make rush hour commuting a quick and pleasant experience,” they wrote in a joint statement. “But we, all of us, owe it to our constituents to take any and every measure that is practicable in order to alleviate, to whatever degree is possible, the multiple hours a day taken away from their homes and their families.”

In the letter, Adams, Brannan, Oddo, Matteo and Menchaca identified for consideration several potential solutions to commuting issues currently posed by the HOV+3 lane, including a two-hour expansion of the morning hours of operation, in order to attract commuters with flexibility in their schedules.

They also asked for increased enforcement through a greater, more consistent police presence, and potentially using technology to confirm that cars in the HOV+3 line actually have the requisite number of people.

Additionally, the coalition of local elected officials said they wanted to talk about the possibility of passing City Council legislation that would prohibit tour buses from using bus lanes during the morning and evening rush.

“Apologies to tourists but the hardworking people from my district and Staten Island who sit in dead stop traffic each and every day because of tour buses jamming up lower Manhattan deserve to get home and see their families faster than the time it takes to read ‘War and Peace,’” Brannan told this paper. “This legislation is a common sense fix to a problem that has made getting home after work on an express bus anything but express.”

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