Earlier we posted on our support for Assemblyman Hevesi's investigation into the little known activities of NYMTC-and we pointed out that the agency's actions regarding the proposed Van Wyck ramps raised real concerns about how it conducts its-and the public's-business. We did, however, leave out some important points that an investigation into NYMTC needs to take a look at.
Our earlier concerns revolved around the fact the NYMTC failed to do any due diligence about the potential negative impact of the city's ramp proposal: "When confronted with the ramp proposal NYMTC never even bothered to do any of the needed due diligence and simply rubber stamped the project because the city sold the group a bill of goods that hid the dramatic traffic impacts that the ramps would have - not only on the Van Wyck - but on local roads as well."
This is an even more serious matter than we first discussed because of the role NYMTC plays in the disbursal of federal highway funds. NYMTC's addition of the proposed Van Wyck ramps to the Transportation Improvement Program ("TIP") list makes the ramp project eligible to receive federal funds. NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky has told the press that the City is attempting to obtain federal funds. NYMTC's negligent failure exercise due diligence to evaluate the proposed ramps, is now the-at least to us fraudulent-basis of the ramps' eligibility for federal funds.
This problematic nature of the NYMTC rubber stamp has been acknowledged by FHWA officials. FHWA has admitted in internal email that it "can be a problem" when NYMTC conducts no review of an application. If it is "a problem", then why has nothing been done to correct it? Rescind the negligently implemented TIP amendment, conduct the proper required analysis, open it to public review, then put the notorious ramps to a NYMTC vote again.
Here's the quote from FHWA's Senior Operations Engineer, New York Division Office:
"Sometimes, [NYMTC's] basic review is nothing more than accepting the info provided by a sponsor and having a vote. Knowing how some sponsors work, this can be a problem. … If the sponsor promotes a project and states all is acceptable in the documentation, I don't think many voters would have asked for further info". – Tom Breslin, Senior Operations Engineer, FHWA, New York Division
Office, email to Ian Francis, Senior Transportation Analyst, NYSDOT Region 11 and Peter King, Director, Planning/Program Management, NYSDOT Region 11;
June 7, 2010, 1:07PM EST.
This has been a screw up and a cover up from the very beginning of the review process-but NYMTC's cavalier attitude to professional review that determines eligibility for federal funds should alarm Hevesi and lead to a thorough shake-up in the agency's make up and decision making structure. Make no mistake here, the city is pushing hard for these federal funds but proper procedures need to be adhered to and NYMTC must be forced to reconvene a proper review before and such funds are ever even considered.
The Willets Point development will-much more than freight rail transportation-wreck havoc on Queens infrastructure and the environment. We have gotten one after the other fraudulent and self serving "analysis" of the impacts and it is time for EDC to come out from under its desk before the city is being faced-as the City of New London-with the unpleasant task of apologizing to the property owners it has unfairly targeted for condemnation.