Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ramp Hearing Today: WPU Press Release

Press Release

Willets Point United, Local Civic groups, Workers and Elected Officials to Speak Out At Press Conference before Hearing on the Van Wyck/Willets Point Ramps

Where: Flushing Public Library; 41-17 Main Street
Flushing, NY 11355

When: Today

Time: 3:30

Today the NYC EDC will be holding a hearing on an Environmental Assessment (EA) for ramps that it wants to build off of the Van Wyck in order to accommodate the 80,000 daily car and truck trips that will be generated by the massive Willets Point development project. The EA has been prepared by EDC’s own consultants and has not been the subject of any independent review-something that local civic groups and the Natural Resources Defense Fund have been requesting for over a year.

The delay over the approval of these ramps has been caused by the intervention of Willets Point United and its consultant Brian Ketcham who reviewed the original ramp report and convinced state regulators that it was either deficient or simply fraudulent. The first EDC sponsored assessment had flatly contradicted the study that EDC had submitted to the city council when the Willets Point project had gone thorough land use review.

As Ketcham, a traffic engineer with over 40 years of experience will tell the hearing today, the EDC assessment of the traffic impacts of the proposed ramps remains deficient and, because it does, should not be approved by state regulators at the Department of Transportation. Instead State DOT needs to conduct an independent review of the ramp proposal in order to accurately gauge the traffic impacts-and remove the review process from an EDC that has little interest in accurately gauging these impacts.

As Jerry Antonacci of WPU says, “EDC has cooked the books for too long. The citizens of Queens need an impartial and independent review of the traffic impact of this development and the ramps that are supposed to mitigate the huge number of vehicles that are going to be clogging local roads and highways."

In addition, WPU is calling on the State Department of Investigation to remove Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald from any role in the ramp review process. Until just a few years ago McDonald was an executive at EDC and her presence in the process lends credence to the suspicion that the review will not be impartial.

The ramp approval process had been characterized by EDC’s dishonesty from its inception. But no matter how you slice it, there is no way that 80,000 daily car and truck trips can be mitigated by two ramps-or even by a multiple of ramps. Local roads will be massively gridlocked and the Van Wyck will be brought to a grinding halt. As a result, SDOT must turn down EDC’s ramp proposal and force the city to revisit the entire Willets Point project.

For a Bloomberg administration that purports to be for lowing NYC’s carbon footprint, the auto-dependent Willets Point development stands as a monument to the mayor’s hypocrisy. In addition, at a time when the mayor is laying off teachers and proposing to close firehouses, the massive use of public money for the Willets Point boondoggle represents a perfect symbol of the mayor’s disordered priorities.

Contact: Jerry Antonacci: 917-335-5427