Fall 2002, p.13

Metropolitan

New Jersey
Car Possessed by Devil Mounts Sidewalk and Injures 14
Four people remained hospitalized in fair condition Sunday after a car [where was the driver?] went out of control and crashed into a block party in Ocean City on Saturday, injuring 14 people. Injuries were mostly cuts and broken bones and were not life-threatening. No charges were filed and police were trying to determine what caused the vehicle [Where was the driver?] to lurch through a fence and onto a crowded sidewalk. The car [Where was the driver?] hit a streetlight before stopping. [OK, the Devil had nothing to do with this, but you would not know the driver had any responsibility given the way this and other crashes are reported.]
- October 13, 2002, Associated Press

NJ Gov Talks Tough on Sprawl
In late October, New Jersey Governor James McGreevey gathered opinion makers at a smart growth summit to spread the message that "State government will stop subsidizing sprawl." The governor noted that 40% of new houses were being given state permits despite being built in areas that the state land-use plan had reserved as open space, farmland or forest. He added, "The state can't be part of the solution if it's part of the problem." McGreevey's transportation commissioner, James Fox said, "We must break the boom and bust cycle of growth and congestion before it consumes our budget and quality of life." He added that new highway interchanges and access points were "Fertilizer for sprawl." McGreevey says he will back this powerful rhetoric by reducing spending on new highways from 20% of the NJDOT's budget to 4%, and spend the state's road money fixing crumbling bridges and roads.

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New York
Groups Urge City to Continue Rail Freight Effort

In late October, a group of 21 New York City-based community and transportation groups, including Transportation Alternatives and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, sent a letter to Mayor Bloomberg that emphasized the benefits of a cross-harbor rail freight tunnel and the many problems caused by over-reliance on trucks. The letter followed reports that the mayor considers the freight project a "back burner" issue (MTR #379).

The letter summarized the need for a direct rail link across the Hudson, citing truck impacts and worsening traffic congestion. It compared new projects that have improved rail freight systems in the Los Angeles and Chicago areas to New York's isolation from the U.S. rail network.

Although little has been heard about the project in recent months, there was a brief report in Crain's NY Business in late October that Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff has asked Congress for $5 million to complete the environmental impact statement. The tunnel is estimated to cost between $2 billion and $7 billion. Recently, Congressman Jerrold Nadler said construction of the rail freight tunnel should be the City's most important project priority during next year's federal transportation authorization.

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New York City
Queens Boulevard Kills High School

Chalk up another victim to the murderously dangerous traffic conditions on Queens Boulevard. A three-year-old plan to build a high school on the site of a former appliance store was abandoned because of pedestrian safety concerns about Queens Boulevard, the Department of Education reported in late October. Agency officials note that Queens has the most overcrowded schools in the city, but that space is so scarce that constructing new schools has been difficult.

The recent decision to back out of the plans, which is supported by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, clears the way for PC Richard, the electronics giant to build a new store, including a large parking lot. The parking lot will add additional traffic to Queens Boulevard. The store's parking lot will feature driveways that cross the sidewalk along the boulevard, thus making conditions for pedestrians even more dangerous. Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Marshall, said the borough president withdrew support for the school after it was determined that the cost of making the site safer for students would be too prohibitive. "Everybody was concerned about the safety and certainly the factor of Queens Boulevard was an issue," Andrews said.
Read Mobilizing the Region at tstc.org for more regional transportation news.

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