Thursday, May 27, 2010

AssFault Rationality

Is it only us? Are we the only people who think that siting an asphalt plant next to Willets Point isn’t the best idea? Apparently we aren’t since the folks over at Queens Crapper forwarded us this report from the local papers-along with the following comment: “Stupid is as stupid does. Let's develop Shangri-la next to an asphalt plant…”

How right they are. But it actually gets even more ridiculous because of the justifying statement made by Mayor Bloomberg: “The new facility will allow us to resurface and repair more streets faster, in a more environmentally sound fashion and at a lower cost at a time when we are looking at all possible options to reduce expenses,” the mayor said. “By producing more recycled asphalt, we’ll avoid 2 million miles of annual truck trips that are used to carry milled asphalt to landfills, reducing congestion, pollution and wear-and-tear on our streets.”

So, let’s get this straight. They are going to build this plant next to the 9 million square foot Willets Point development-the one that will generate 80,000 car and truck trips a day-and there rationale is, “reducing congestion?” Is there a better reason for believing that the term city planning is an oxymoron?

Not to be outdone, NYC’s own Sadik weighs in as well: “Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the DOT, said the new plant will help the city keep pace with design and repair demands without sacrificing time and money. “Continued investments that combine the safety and good repair of our streets with the need to reduce our city’s carbon footprint are helping New York City remain an international leader in sustainable practices,” she said.”

And to show we have a sense of humor, we will put the “sustainable practices,” asphalt plant right next to an unsustainable Willets Point. But there is some logic to all this-although it has a strong flavor of the kind of crackpot rationality that C. Wright Mills wrote about. Since the city is doing so much auto-dependent development in and around where the plant will be operating, it actually does behoove the green mavens to have asphalt nearby to fix the proliferating potholes that will surely be a product of all of this faux sustainability.

But imagine if the Willets Point development ever does get built-an eventuality that we believe is as realistic as the sustainability goals of PlaNYC 2030. If it does, we will have yet another vehicle generating facility that will add to the traffic burden that the local roads and arterials are unable to handle under present conditions-right next to, as Queens Crapper says, “Shangri-La.”