Reimagining communities for future New Yorkers
With the goal of transforming downtown areas of New York into vibrant communities, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) has awarded a total of $100 million to ten communities. The funds allow each to develop strategic investment plans and implement key catalytic projects, creating neighborhoods that the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live and work in.
BuroHappold Engineering was commissioned to deliver services for the redevelopment of Hicksville, the winner of the Long Island region DRI, and Olean, the DRI supported project in Western New York.
Hicksville has a population of 42,000 and is known for its Long Island Railroad (LIRR) train station, which is the busiest station outside of New York City. The high number of commuters using the town as their route into the city means that car traffic has grown, and the bisecting highways have been widened to accommodate it. Only one of the three main roads that cross at the station has proper crosswalks, and there is little in the way of a bus service as an alternative to car travel. The key challenge for our team was to devise a plan that would make the area around the station safer for pedestrians, rethink parking and improve the area’s overall urban design.
Olean has 14,000 residents and sits in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. While the town is popular for the variety of walking trails nearby and its historical architecture, the main street and nearby mall both struggle to attract visitors. The layout of the road and parking system also makes it difficult to attract pedestrians to the town center. The project to remodel Olean focuses on the need to create a place for people, promoting opportunities for work and leisure.
In Hicksville, existing parking requirements were such that any development would either be larger than the hamlet desired or not economically viable. BuroHappold provided case studies illustrating how comparable communities have lowered the amount of parking required near transit stations. The expectation is that the area will be rezoned and a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) overlay implemented, which will maximize pedestrian and public transport access.
The speed of vehicles passing through the hamlet discourages any use of the street other than driving. We worked with State officials to prepare a specific set of interventions that could be made to calm traffic and create ‘complete streets’. Specifically, we highlighted that while commuters in cars are able to easily travel into the area, they are not able to walk safely to the station once they have parked.
In Olean, BuroHappold evaluated the various projects that formed the application for DRI funding from the perspective of the TOD Standard. This set of metrics provided a quantitative look at the impact of each potential project on walking, cycling, parking, transit, and other aspects of mobility. We also provided one-on-one design feedback with City officials for the proposals that will ultimately be funded.
We also developed the ‘decongest the center’ theory, where drivers destined for the station would be separated from those passing through. This will improve safety and generate opportunities to create retail and public spaces near the station.
BuroHappold’s role on this project was to introduce progressive mobility into the conversation, delve into the details, and work closely with the urban design, economics, and outreach team throughout. For each of these initiatives, we documented existing conditions and provided quantitative and qualitative analysis to allow our clients to make important decisions about the developments. Both Hicksville and Olean are now progressing to become part of a new group of communities that will enable future generations to prosper.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply