Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Traffic Crisis on Staten Island

The same day that the Staten Island Advance previewed today’s Wal-Mart community forum, it featured a front page story highlighting the overall traffic crisis in the borough. Considering that a major focus of our forum will be on Wal-Mart’s potential traffic impacts on the South Shore, this article couldn’t have come at a better time.

Highlighting the calls by Councilman Lanza and Representative Fossella for an Staten Island traffic task force, the piece makes clear that the borough’s transportation system is insufficient and that, specifically, the road infrastructure needs a major overhaul. Said Councilman Lanza:
I think the problem is so large and so complex that we need to take a global approach to it, as opposed to just putting in a traffic light here and turning lanes there. We're beyond that.
Lanza’s comment is interesting because those temporary solutions that he scoffs at are exactly what Wal-Mart does to supposedly mitigate its stores’ traffic impacts. The councilman then adds that vehicular congestion is:
"… just about the biggest threat to Staten Island," with time spent sitting in traffic eating into residents' quality of life.
Rep. Fossellla agrees with this sentiment, believing the traffic issue so problematic as to need a “Marshall Plan:”

Fossella said the traffic problem here warrants a "Marshall Plan" -- like the post-World War II influx of aid to Europe -- for today's Staten Island, insofar as it "has to be cohesive, inter-agency and with the full weight and authority from the mayor."
The last graph of the article is also very apropos to tonight’s event:

Streets such as Forest Avenue, Victory Boulevard, Richmond Hill, Forest Hill, Richmond, Amboy and Arthur Kill roads all are saturated daily, with few prospects for improvement.
Arthur Kill and Amboy roads lead into the proposed Wal-Mart site and other streets like Page Ave are also unequipped to handle massive traffic increases. We hope that Wal-Mart spokeswomen, before they label all Wal-Mart opposition unrepresentative “special interests,” realize that for many in Tottenville, Richmond Valley and beyond the issue isn’t about “limiting consumer choice” but stopping overdevelopment, preventing even more traffic congestion and maintaining quality of life.