Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Precedent for ramp rejection

From Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

Well, one thing is really good to know. When state DOT finds that ramps are not in the community's interest they get busy to jettison them-even when the ramps in question are their own idea. That's exactly what happened with ramps that the agency planned to build off of the Deegan, and the Mott Haven Herald has the story: "Pummeled by public outcry against a plan to extend the off-ramps on the Major Deegan Expressway, the State Department of Transportation has abandoned the project. Much-needed repairs will be made to the aging roadway over Mott Haven, but the plan to extend the highway’s exit ramps in order to calm the traffic that backs up as cars merge onto Exterior Street is on hold indefinitely, said DOT spokesman Adam Levine."

So this post now becomes a tale of two ramp projects-and the Mott Haven victory demonstrates that state DOT does listen to the voice of the community; and needs to do just that when it considers whether or not to build ramps off the Van Wyck in order to facilitate the Willets Point development. In fact, the Van Wyck ramps need to undergo the same vigorous community review that the ones in the Bronx went through.

As the MH Herald tells us: "Every speaker at a public hearing at Hostos Community College on Nov. 9 denounced the state proposal. Some speakers also expressed concern that efforts to ease congestion would simply attract more cars, and more pollution. Others criticized plans to use eminent domain to seize existing businesses in order to make room for the new ramps. “We need more jobs, more affordable housing, more clean air, not more highway,” said Mychal Johnson, a member of Community Board 1 who initiated a petition campaign against the state plan. “The Deegan should be repaired, but not expanded,” he said in an interview."

So, as WPU continues to present its critique of the city-sponsored Van Wyck ramps to impacted community groups, it is incumbent upon NYSDOT to initiate its own community review process-Flushing, Corona, College Point and all of the surrounding Queens nabes deserve no less.. And the more facts we find out about these ramps-and the faulty report submitted by DOT-the worse they look. Put simply, they are exacerbators not mitigators.