Thursday, September 16, 2010

Queens Roads Have No Champion: And Kudos to WPU's Mike Gerrard

In a survey of the best lawyers from around the world, Willets Point United's legal advocate Mike Gerrard was listed as the best environmental lawyer in New York-and in our view, it's not even close. But the recognition should put the state and the federal regulatory authorities0NYSDOT and FHWA-on notice that their lack of due diligence (and potential collusion) over the Willets Point/Van Wyck ramps will not go unchallenged if they fail to subject the proposed Access Modification Report to a full independent review under the National Environmental Policy act.

Given that the state's roads are in a state of current disrepair-owing in large part to DOT's incapacities-the allowance of ramps that will flood the highwayss and lead to the wasting of the billion dollar being spent to upgrade of the Kew Gardens Interchange, is simply unconscionable. Queens electeds need to wake up-much as those on Staten Island have because of the poor state of that boroughs roads.

As Tri-State Transportation Campaign tells us: "On Staten Island, traffic congestion is both a way of life and a perennial complaint. Six of the 15 editorials in the Staten Island Advance this month have been about transportation, and the paper — and Island citizens and elected officials — regularly call for both better transit and better roads."

And guess what? NYSDOT responds when there is political pressure: "After meeting with borough officials, NYSDOT Acting Commissioner Stan Gee said this week that the agency will widen a 1.2-mile section of the Staten Island Expressway. But a project to extend the SIE bus lane to the Goethals Bridge has fallen out of the NYSDOT capital program; the lane will be extended only to Richmond Ave. The agency has already opened the bus lane to cars with at least two occupants during peak periods, and hasn’t publicly documented how the change is affecting bus commuters."

In Queens, not so much-as pols still seem reluctant to challenge a Willets Point project that was falsely sold to them on the basis of environmental sustainability. But the proverbial stuff is already hitting the fan and the three blind mice routine is gonna come back and bite Queens residents on their collective butts. WPU may be in the eye of the storm, but that organization's fate is akin to the canary in the mine-a warning to all those borough residents, and the folks who are supposed to represent them, that a Category 5 traffic storm is on the way.