Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sick Transit Gloria: A Sadik-Khan Job

Sadik-Khan is at it again-this time it is the arbitrary remaking of 34th Street that has her Utopian dreams all aflame. The NY Post has the editorial response: "City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan — a k a The Thing That Ate Times Square — is on her way back for seconds. New York’s bicycle belle has her eye on 34th Street this time, which she’s planning to transform into another teeming walrus wharf . . . er, pedestrian plaza. She’s planning to swipe the entire block between Fifth and Sixth avenues, permitting only buses to pass through. Nor will the chop stop there: 34th Street is to run eastbound only from Fifth Avenue, and westward from Sixth Avenue, rendering the road useless as a thoroughfare."

The Post, as we do, believes that this is asinine: "Certainly her new plan would severely degrade one of New York’s premier commercial districts, for no discernible good purpose other than to give a boost to the lawn-chair and roller-blade industries. Worse still, she’s proceeding with her $30 million scheme in secret and without a shred of real accountability."

Andrea Peyser agrees-and weighs in in yesterday's Post: "At issue is a project bigger than the detested, dangerous bike lanes and despised pedestrian plazas that have sprouted up like a cancer, to applause from Mayor Bloomberg. The new plan is Sadik-Khan's crowning achievement. Her Taj Mahal. Her Coney Island fun house. It's called the 34th Street Transitway. And as plans reveal, it's a doozy -- meant to surrender that main Midtown thoroughfare to buses while preventing passenger cars from traveling it from the Lincoln Tunnel to the Midtown Tunnel. The project is a budding Titanic -- a monstrous muddle of bus routes, bike lanes and pedestrian malls."

When we last encountered this maven of mischief she was fiddling while the the city was buried under a blizzard-but practical matters are not her m├ętier. The Post gnashes its teeth over this inanity, but doesn't feel that there is much that can be done-aside from public caterwauling: "Which is why it is critical that the City Council exert its every power to force Madame Bike-Lady to explain — publicly and in detail — what she has in mind, and precisely what its impact will be. True, the council doesn’t have any authority over the DOT, but it can use its bully pulpit to shine a light on the department’s hush-hush maneuvers...This time, it can do something to protect existing commerce — and jobs — from the wrath of Sadik-Khan."

We disagree that the council is helpless to stop this maneuver-it may be self-checked, but it isn't powerless. What the body can do is challenge this cockamamie scheme under the rubric of SEQR-the state's environmental quality review act. Put simply, this is a massive undertaking that will have an equally large impact on the city's environment. The council should warn the mayor that it Sadik-=khan doesn't submit this to a full environmental review, it will go into court to force the department's hand. It is time for the legislature to re-assert its own oversight prerogatives.

We'll give, along with Peyser, two outspoken New Yorkers the last word: "It should be scrapped. "Oh, my God! This means all of our side streets will become tunnel-to-tunnel streets," said Marisa Bulzone, a 35th Street resident. "How many meetings do I have to go to and tell officials that 33rd Street does not go through? You'd think they'd know this. They don't!"  Lisa Pyle of Manhattan griped, "This is a case of Mayor Bloomberg hiring those he enjoys as dinner guests, like [Schools Chancellor] Cathie Black. "I bet [Sadik-Khan] doesn't even own a car -- maybe doesn't even have a license." Stop her before it's too late.