Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Congestive Traffic Failures

The Alliance is holding a press conference today in opposition to the PlaNYC's proposal for congestion pricing. We have been raising a number of issues in our opposition to the proposal, but the one thing that is paramount here is that the current plan is way to narrow in scope and leaves out serious traffic concerns in those areas outside the CBD.

All of which is underscored in the way in which proponents of the plan emphasize the health consequences, particularly children's asthma rates, as a major reason for their support. This brings up a fascinating point that the advocates all fail to mention: the current plan doesn't address crucial traffic variables in the outer boroughs, and fails to analyze (where's AKRF when you need them?) how the congestion pricing scheme will potentially exacerbate traffic/asthma issues in outlying neighborhoods.

As we have been pointing out, this is especially salient because the multi-page plan fails to look at the administration's promotion of auto-dependent shopping malls. Particularly egregious is the currently constructing Gateway Mall on the grave site of the old Bronx Terminal Market. This shopping Valhalla will generate around 125,000 cars a week and thousands of diesel spewing trucks along a strip of the Bronx that is known as "Asthma Alley."

When the Alliance was fighting the Mall, and EDC promoting it, all we heard was how great this would be for the economy of the borough. Not a single word about the environmental impact, or about the developer's traffic study the the Tri-State Transportation folks called one of thee worst they had ever seen (in terms of low balling real world traffic impacts). This from a group that supports congestion pricing.

Which brings us to the issue of neighborhood shopping. The weakness of the current plan, as far as small business is concerned, is its failure to appreciate the role that neighborhood shopping plays in any concept of sustainability that's worth its salt. Neighborhood shopping strips promote local economies, encourage short car trips or even better, walk-to-shop retailing, and bolster entrepreneurism at the same time. Any sustainability plan that ignores this is one that needs to be sent back to the drawing board.