Friday, September 10, 2010

The great city-state coverup

From the Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

It has been seven months since Willets Point United, and its traffic consultant Brian Ketcham, demonstrated the blatant deficiency of a Van Wyck ramp report submitted by NYC EDC to the NYSDOT. The state agency is responsible for initially approving these ramps-or not-with the Federal Highway Administration having the last word on their feasibility. So the question that we ask, is there a cover up at NYSDOT?

In this interim seven month period, EDC and its consultants, in apparent secrecy and collusion with the oversight agency, have been working feverishly-to address the gross defects of their original submission (a revised ramp report was first slated to be ready in March). But, the WPU and Ketcham, after having been the key actors in insuring that the original report was sent back for revision, (in spite of promises from NYSDOT that they would be included in the revision process) have been left out; leaving EDC's original axe to grind consultant as the sole interlocutor with the state on the ramps feasibility.

As a result of the agency's reneging on an open, professional review process, WPU has been forced to file numerous Freedom of Information requests just to obtain information that, if transparency was valued, would be shared collegially in the interest of insuring that the impact of the ramps on the entire Queens highway grid system would be honestly evaluated. Instead the EDC consultant, AKRF, whose work was not only deficient but, arguably deceptive, has been allowed to act as the sole provider of technical knowledge to the agency.

The compelling question is, why has NYSDOT circled the wagons and resisted the free and open exchange of information? This is the question that WPU's Ketcham has asked DOT Commissioner Stanley Gee in a letter to the agency head. In particular, Ketcham raises the issue of NYSDOT's accountability to the public: "Given your distinguished career at the Federal Highway Administration and more recently at New York State Department of Transportation, I am bringing to your attention current Departmental practices that undermine your objective of improving its performance, accountability and communication within and outside the agency."