Historically the canal and the streets abutting it served as transport
conduits for local manufacturing.  As manufacturing has left the area,
use of the canal as means of commercial trucks and barges has declined
as well.  Today local businesses and residents are served by bus and
subway lines, private cars, bicycles and taxi corridors along 4th Avenue
and Smith Street.  Shouldn’t we ask why a canal built as a means of
transportation can't be used for as one?

The canal was originally created as a transportation corridor.  If we
envision it as a small boat and ferry corridor some very rich
possibilities emerge. Imagine the Smith and 9th Street station as a
place where trains and buses connect with bicycles and ferries.  Imagine
an outdoor cafe built on the canal bulkhead, stopping for a cool
lemonade or a beer in the summer while your neighbors bicycle up and
down a canal promenade.  It's a nice image.


Possibilities for the Smith and 9th Street station

When we look at the photograph at the top of the page we see the entry
to a train station, but the photo reveals the station offers much more
for neighborhood commuters.  Visible in the photograph are also the bus
and shuttle stop, an impromptu taxi drop-off, and a bike rack (9th
street has bicycle lanes in both directions).  The Smith & 9th Street
station is actually an intermodal transportation hub although it doesn't
function to its potential in that capacity*.

As a hub the station suffers from at least the following shortcomings:
1.  Bus queuing locations are at the narrowest portion of the sidewalk
making it difficult to walk to the station when a bus is loading or
unloading
2.  There are no shelters at either bus/ shuttle stop
3.  There is no safe-passage between the bus stop on east side of 9th
Street and the train station
4.  There is no dedicated drop-off area (out of the flow of normal
vehicular traffic) for taxis or private cars
5.  Bicycle racks are outside the line of sight of the station attendant
and therefore not secure
6.  Although it’s the highest elevated station in the MTA system, the
station has no elevator or wheelchair access.
7  The Canal offers unrealized potential for future modes of
transportation using:

a. water-taxi
b. pedestrian/ bicycle path
c. small boat dock

With existing big-box retail and currently proposed multi-use
developments increasing both the residential population, and destination
retail and restaurants, there should be plans for improvements in the
transportation services to the area, but the MTA is in fact cutting
services.  As a counter point to the MTA's lack of coordination, the DOT
has been proactive in trying to develop 9th Street as a multi-modal
corridor - planning for on-street parking, bike lanes and implementing
controls to slow vehicular traffic and protect pedestrians.  Making sure
that there is coordination between the DCP, the DOT, the MTA and the
local community is something that should be on the top of all our
agendas.

Potential hubs - connecting differing modes of transportation


The station’s potential as a transportation hub could be realized with
the following improvements:
1.  Add shelters to bus stops on both sides of 9th Street
2.  Reposition bus stops to widest portions of sidewalk
3.  Add a pedestrian bridge from east side of 9th Street to interior of
the station (relocating the formal entry of the station to the second
level)
4.  Provide covered bicycle racks within view of station attendant
5.  Provide drop-off lane for cars and taxis
6.  Provide elevators to the multiple levels of the station
7.  Provide a water-taxi “hop-off” landing
8.  Provide pedestrian/ bicycle path along the Gowanus Canal edge
9.  Provide small boat storage and/ or dock

The options easiest to develop are those that exist at the current
station, but canal based transportation should be part of our planning
process for the future.


The Smith & 9th Street Station - welcome to the Gowanus