Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sadik-Khan's Two Faces

We all know by now how NYC DOT Commissioner is trying to unilaterally alter the city's streets so that we can better resemble bike-friendly Copenhagen. Now the stated rationale for this extreme makeover, is that it is being done in order to reduce traffic and make the city safer. But, there's a fly in this particular medicinal ointment-and that is, of course, the mayor's brazen hypocrisy all over the city, but particularly in the outer boroughs, in promoting car dependent mega-projects that will counteract any possible environmental good that could come from reducing the city's car and truck traffic.

Well, it now looks as if Sadik-Khan is a Bloomberg partner in crime-as we have discovered in one e-mail that was obtained by Willets Point United from NY State DOT. The correspondence is between local DOT administrator Philip Eng and Commissioner Stanley Gee. Here it is:

From: Eng, Phillip
To: Gee, Stanley ... (and many other key names at NYSDOT involved with the proposed Van Wyck ramps)

Subject: Bruckner Sheridan and Willets Pt.
This is to let you know that I had a conversation today with JSK [presumably, Janette Sadik-Kahn of NYCDOT] and Madelyn Wils of EDC regarding the NYSDOT's position on the Bruckner Sheridan EIS and our position on Willets Point.

Back in May 2010, NYCDOT questioned on our Bruckner project the traffic modeling, growth rates and projected traffic diverted onto local streets. Calling into question the baseline condition that is [sic] utilizes data and assumptions from NYMTC's Best Practices Model [BPM]. Regional review of issues and comments were sent to NYC in July 2010.

More recently I informed NYCEDC that this puts us in a dilemma now that the City wants us to approve their sensitivity analysis on Willets Point Redevelopment. Our concern is that the City is using the same baseline condition, data and assumptions on Willets Point and knowing that the City has raised questions makes it difficult for the Region to sign off. NYCDOT does not believe they have called into question BPM.

JSK noted that she will be sending me a letter holding me personally responsible for holding the Willets Pt project hostage. I'm okay with that as we need to ensure that we have thoroughly reviewed the issues and that they are resolved satisfactorily. I told her that we need to have our staff meet (sometime next week) including NYMTC and go over the concerns raised by the city and bring them to a resolution.

Once and if we are convinced that there is no inconsistency on the City's part, we hope to be able to jointly move forward.
NYMTC and FHWA are in agreement that the City has been inconsistent and we are all concerned what this means for projects that rely on BPM. We will be reaching out to them today to further discussions.

Now we are still parsing all of this backbiting between DOTs, but what appears to be happening here, is that the city objects to the modeling that SDOT has done with the controversial question of whether or not to close the Sheriden Expressway-Bruckner Interchange. As the NY Daily News has reported: "The Sheridan Expressway could become a road to nowhere. Local advocates want to see the stubby expressway razed to make way for parks and housing, while Sheridan supporters say the spur is needed for truck traffic. But with no funded proposal for development where it now stands, the expressway would be a white elephant if closed to traffic, according to state officials."

As the News goes on to point out: "A Transportation Department report found closing it would send thousands more vehicles down local roads, including trucks headed to the Hunts Point Terminal Market. The traffic headache and backlash from Hunts Point businesses could persuade the agency to keep the mile-long spur."

What's unclear here, is the position of NYCDOT. From the e-mail exchange, it seems as if the local agency objects to the state's analysis-but this needs greater explication.

What is perfectly clear, however, is that Sadik-Khan (JSK in the e-mail) is trying to Bogart the state with threats. To reiterate: "JSK noted that she will be sending me a letter holding me personally responsible for holding the Willets Pt project hostage. I'm okay with that as we need to ensure that we have thoroughly reviewed the issues and that they are resolved satisfactorily."

So, the SDOT, in doing its proper due diligence and questioning the data submitted by NYC EDC, is under a threat from Ms. Tricycle-someone who appears to be comfortable with the fraudulent fudged data that the EDC consultants have submitted-and has caused all of the delays in the approval process for the Willets Point/Van Wyck ramps. Unable to argue from the facts on the ground, the commissioner is issuing woof tickets.

What this all means to us, is that there is a compelling need to open up this entire review process to public scrutiny-and take it out of the unclean hands of EDC. When legitimate questions are being raised and responses are given that threaten the honest broker, you just know that the locals are trying to rig the entire game. Its past time for a little sunlight, no? The Bloomberg Bunko Squad needs to be exposed.