Monday, May 30, 2011

Deconstructing Deceit on Van Wyck Ramps

As we rapidly approach the June 8th hearing on the EDC Environmental Assessment (EA) it is becoming clearer and clearer that the EDC submission is more of the same-the same bridge mix that the agency hands out to the stupid and the gullible. Many years ago the civil rights attorney explained the political version of bridge mix, saying that from a distance it looks much like a combination of nuts and chocolate, but as you get closer it is readily seen for what it is: chocolate coated manure.

EDC has been laboring desperately for a year and a half to avoid any independent scrutiny of its flawed work-going so far as to have the Transportation Hypocrite Sadik-Khan threaten State DOT if it didn't rubber stamp its ramp application. Luckily for EDC the new state DOT commissioner looks as if she came into office with her own rubber stamp-constructed during her sojourn over at EDC where she served as an executive until recently.

Well we finally have a clear glimpse of just how bad the EDC deceit really is; and it comes from WPU's Brian Ketcham whose work exposed the agency's perfidy in the first place. Here's Ketcham's summary of the unprofessional attempt of EDC to proceed with its flawed ramp application:

JUNE 8, 2011


Brian T. Ketcham, P.E.

1. I am submitting for the record a 250 page document that addresses the March 2011 Environmental Assessment, the subject of this hearing. The submission includes more than 200 pages of technical analyses that I produced over the last two years, all submitted to NYCEDC, NYSDOT and the FHWA.

2. The WP FGEIS approved in 2008 painted a grim picture of the effects of this project on traffic: gridlocked local access roads; gridlocked nearby expressways. Nonetheless the New York City Council approved it.

3. In 2009 NYCEDC produced a second document, the Access Modification Report, required for FHWA consideration of the Van Wyck ramps. This report concluded that the Willets Point project would have little impact along the Van Wyck Expressway and along local access roads. The main reason is that EDC changed its assumptions -- instead of half of project traffic entering the Van Wyck, only 16% would. But they failed to reassign this traffic to local access roads. Our disclosure of this sleight-of-hand resulted in an 18 month delay in the Willets Point project. NYCEDC has been scrambling to catch up ever since.

4. My 250 page submission goes into great detail of what is wrong with the March 2011 EA. Let me summarize a few details.

5. EDC continues to under report project impacts—by huge amounts. They low ball the number of auto trips this project will generate. Yet, based upon their own assumptions, the project will generate more than 80,000 car and trips daily, 365 days a year. As their own analysis reveals there is not capacity to accommodate all this traffic; not on local access roads; not on nearby expressways.

6. Yet, the March 2011 EA, now assuming a third of WP auto trips will use the Van Wyck instead of half assumed in the WP FGEIS, reports operating conditions on local roads that are better than reported in the FGEIS despite carrying 26% more WP trips. More trips, lower impacts: it is mysterious why EDC thinks anyone will believe this.

7. The project will generate 40,000 transit trips daily. There is far too little transit capacity for these trips. As a result, many people will abandon transit for their autos. And, like for auto use, EDC has under reported transit impacts, both for the WP project and for other new projects that are expected to be completed over the next decade.

8. The WP FGEIS reports 4,676 PM peak hour subway trips. Amazingly, the FGEIS transit analysis accounts for just 34% of this total.

9. Willets Point and the other new development like Flushing Commons, Sky View Parc and all the rest add up to about 31 million square feet of new development . EDC has attempted to conceal from NYSDOT, FHWA and the public the true cumulative impact of these projects.

10. As my submission describes, the March 2011 EA is filled with errors—just like the FGEIS, the AMR and early versions of the EA. While I am opposed to this project, at the very least the March 2011 EA should be rejected, corrected and put to the review of an entirely independent team of engineers and environmentalists.

We got a big kick about the divergence of Willets Point traffic to the non existent and inadequate mass transit infrastructure-especially with all the braying we have heard from Claire Shulman about creating a new LIRR station in Flushing. There is simply no room at the inn for all of these new riders and EDC knows it. So, where will they go?

As Ketcham tells us: "...many people will abandon transit for their autos." Well Duh! But does the council member from Corona care, or even have the capacity to understand this? What about her counterpart from Klushing who remains Kooless?

We are looking at one of the biggest scams in city history here-and if this project gets delayed until a Mayor Liu or a Mayor Deblasio get into office, the lid will be blown off of the illegality and fraud-which is why Bloomberg and EDC is in such a rush to throw WPU under the bulldozer.

The other possibility is the courts-and is also why EDC instituted its phony Phase 1 to end run the July hearing before Judge Madden. Nothing that the agency has done can withstand independent review. If such a review happens the development is posted and toasted.