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Proposal for pedestrian plaza near Holland Tunnel

October 10, 2012 8:06:09 PM PDT
There's a proposal to transform an area near the Holland Tunnel into a pedestrian plaza for $27 million.

It may look crazy to be sitting in a rocky plot of land near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, but community leaders here say by spring, there will be lots of chairs and tables and more greenery to make it a cozy spot to relax.

And that's just the beginning of the changes planned for this neighborhood.

In a proposal unveiled Wednesday night, the streets around the entrance to the Holland Tunnel are transformed.

Trees line every street and restaurants have outdoor seating on wider sidewalks.

Medians with plants extend down the middle of Varick Street and bike lanes are prominently displayed.

"This is going to be known as a place to walk around, not just an entrance to the Holland Tunnel," said Ellen Baer, of Hudson Connection.

The neighborhood known as "Hudson Square" is growing, and leaders of the business improvement district say workers and residents need more open space.

The plans calls for limiting traffic on "little" 6th Avenue to expand SoHo Square, which is imagined as a small park with improved seating and lighting.

"I'm afraid it will get too crowded, that's why I'm ambivalent about it, I'm not sure I would really want that," said Maggie Wells, an employee.

If approved, the changes would take five years to implement and would cost $27 million, half of which would come from the city.

Some commuters Eyewitness News talked to questioned whether people would want to sit outside surrounded by so much traffic.

"I don't think it's a good idea to hang out here, with all the trucks passing by its not healthy," one commuter said.

"They don't want to be sitting out here w all the honking and noise," another said.

The plan does eliminate one parking lane on Varick, but the traffic pattern to the Holland Tunnel remains the same.

"In no way do I see the changes slowing traffic anymore, but I also don't think the traffic can move any slower," said Sam Schwartz, a traffic expert.

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