Friday, February 19, 2010

WPU's traffic expert to meet with DOT

From the Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

Representatives of Willets Point United-joined by traffic expert Brian Ketcham-will be meeting with the regional staff of NYSDOT today to discuss just why the group believes that the agency shouldn't approve the city's (actually EDC's) application to build ramps off of the Van Wyck Expressway. This should be quite an interesting get together.

Initially, NYSDOT had cancelled the originally scheduled meeting when it found out that representatives of state elected officials planned to attend in order to learn more about why WPU felt that the ramps were not feasible. The implication for the cancellation was that the meeting was becoming, "too political."

This is a situation that genuinely puzzled us. In close to thirty years of lobbying city and state agencies, we have never seen such skittishness about who's coming to a meeting-and the need to micromanage who should or shouldn't be there. Subsequent to the original cancellation, NYSDOT has tried to further restrict attendance-claiming that we shouldn't be there because the meeting is purely, "technical." Yet EDC, the lead political agency for the development, will be represented.

So what's motivating this need to restrict? In our view, it appears that EDC is playing an overbearing role-and if what we suspect is true, than the above board nature of the approval process is thrown into doubt. Now we know that NYSDOT doesn't have the in-house capacity to evaluate the work of URS, EDC's traffic consultants. And in the absence of that capacity, the agency is normally inclined to (relatively) uncritically accept the proffered work.

WPU has thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into the normal review process by submitting-with today's power point presentation by forty year veteran Ketcham-a detailed rebuttal to the URS assertions. And the flawed nature of the submission will be revealed in an extremely harsh light. Put simply, the traffic ramp report (AMR) so thoroughly contradicts the original traffic study done for the ULURP EIS, that the good intentions of EDC must be called into question.