South side of Delancey Street off of the Williamsburg Bridge.
While I was walking the proposed route of the LOMEX, I was wondering
why Broome Street was picked as the main right-of-way for the highway instead
of picking some other roads in the area to serve this purpose. As
we saw during the tour, several hundred old and historical buildings would
have been demolished in order to make way for the highway along Broome
Street. What I decided to do was to backtrack along some of the major
parallel streets in the area to see if they could have been better utilized
for the LOMEX right-of-way. I wanted to see if less buildings could
have been razed along these routes, as opposed to the Broome Street route.
This undertaking is not to second-guess the capable planners and engineers
of the Moses era, but to maybe understand why they chose Broome Street
over the other routes. Let's see what we come up with as we start
to examine some of the aspects of the first road that runs parallel to
Broome Street: Delancey Street.
Approaching the Williamsburg Bridge, Delancey Street takes on the appearance of a major east/west arterial street. This is a picture of the street, looking east towards the bridge. First thing that comes to mind is how much wider Delancey Street is compared to the considerably smaller Broome Street. Even though the LOMEX's alignment would have met Delancey Street at Suffolk Street, that appears to be a little bit to late when trying to salvage some portions of Broome Street from the wrecking ball. For a perspective, Suffolk Street is about two blocks away from this picture location. So, could Moses and his planners have built the LOMEX utilizing the Delancey Street right-of-way?
Before I attempt to answer that question, let's swing the camera around and look at Delancey Street facing west. Delancey is a fairly wide three lane in each direction street, with a nice size median as well. From this photograph, utilizing the Delancey Street ROW for the LOMEX alignment still appears to be feasible.
To throw a wrench in to the plans, let's remember this important bit
of information from nycroads.com: "Near Centre Street, the outer lanes
of the highway would descend and pass under Elizabeth Street, continuing
eastward in an open-walled cut to the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza. All streets
except Mulberry and Mott would be carried across bridges over the depressed
highway. At Suffolk Street the alignment would meet Delancey Street."
"No problem!", you say.
Actually, we do have a problem. The J and M subway train runs underneath Delancey Street in this area. The J and M trains also utilize the Williamsburg Bridge to cross-over to Brooklyn. Here we see the Bowery Station that serves the J and M subway trains, located on south side of Delancey Street. The F subway line also has a subway station in the area.
Moses engineering plans called for a trenched highway in this area.
Trenched highways and subway tunnels utilizing the same ROW don't mix too
well, without major reconstruction efforts of the later transportation
system. This is why I feel that Broome Street was to serve as the
alignment for the LOMEX in this area.
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