Forgotten Brooklyn Mega Project Lurks in Background of Development Plans
|The proposed Gowanus Tunnel
would bury the aging Gowanus Expressway, allowing neighborhoods long divided by
the hulking highway to reconnect and redevelop.
After two years of work, the
Gowanus Community Stakeholder Group (of which T.A. is a charter member) has
presented its draft proposal for a new Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn: a tunnel.
This proposal was presented in a Town Hall meeting of all the communities in the
Gowanus Corridor, extending from Brooklyn Heights to Fort Hamilton, at Brooklyn
Borough Hall on June 28.
Though the decrepit Gowanus
Expressway literally looms over them, Brooklyn residents may sometimes forget
about the long standing community push to bury the expressway in a tunnel. After
all, residents are currently consumed with responding to a myriad of development
proposals for the area, and particularly the increased motor vehicle traffic
that they would create. By comparison, the glacial fight to bury the Gowanus in
order to reconnect long divided communities may not be sexy and immediate, but
residents should pay close attention to the struggle because, with or without
the upzoning, arena or IKEA, the Gowanus reconstruction process will divert
significant numbers of motorists onto neighborhood streets.
The New York State Department
of Transportation (NYSDOT) was forced to consider a tunnel alternative to the
Gowanus after successful litigation by a coalition, including T.A., which gave
rise to the Stakeholder Group. Recently, NYSDOT announced a plan to spend $344
million to re-deck sections of the existing Gowanus. This quick fix will further
raise the cost of a rebuilt elevated highway; the tunnel, though initially more
expensive, is the more cost effective long term solution because elevated
highways must be completely rebuilt every 50 years.
Get involved with the
Stakeholder Group; we need you! E-mail
Traffic Truth for the West
It turns out the City
might be a little optimistic in its projections of mass transit ridership to a
new stadium on the West Side. Both NYPIRG and the Tri-State Transportation
Campaign point to a study showing that only 30-40% of attendees of events at
Madison Square Garden arrive by transit. The City claims that 70% of the new
stadium’s patrons will get there by public transportation. Yet the Garden is far
better served by transit including: subways, LIRR and NJ Transit - than would be
the Jets stadium. “If any arena in New York should be getting big mass transit
use from its patrons, it’s the Garden,” said Tri-State Transportation Campaign
director Jon Orcutt. “That it only gets about half of its customers riding
transit suggests that a less accessible site will see a smaller transit share.”
NYPIRG and Tri-State
New York City
Subways that Run Themselves
New York City Transit workers are working hard to ready the L line for
October when trains on the L line will essentially run themselves. Trains will
be staffed with operators who will be in control of the trains until next May,
at which time trains will move from station to station in fully automatic mode.
The new system will allow the transit authority to squeeze 20 percent more
trains onto its tracks, running 30 to 31 trains per hour on a typical line
instead of 26, and permit the trains to operate at higher speeds, meaning less
waiting time and shorter rides for passengers. A 2004 report card by the
Straphangers Campaign rated the L as one of the twenty best subway lines in the
city, with more trains scheduled to come per hour than the system average.
However the same survey showed that the L was still more crowded than the system
average, with only 29% of passengers having seats at peak hours, compared with
an average of 44% seated passengers system-wide. Adding more trains will help to
alleviate overcrowding. Stations will also have computer displays that will
offer passengers real-time information about when the next train will arrive.
Opponents of the new system are concerned about the safety of the technology, as
well as the danger of removing staff from subway trains when trained
professionals might be needed during an emergency situation. Proponents point to
the success of computer driven subway lines in San Francisco, London and Paris.
NY Times and Straphangers
This summer anti-sprawl
activists and those fighting against suburban style development in New York City
will be speaking the same language. A new dictionary designed for everyone from
grassroots activists to members of planning commissions hits bookstores and
libraries this summer. A Field Guide to Sprawl is written by Dolores Hayden,
professor of Architecture and American Studies at Yale University and
illustrated with aerial photographs of the American landscape taken by Jim Wark.
Ms. Hayden says she hopes the book will allow people to come up with a more
powerful critique of sprawl and unrestrained growth by giving them the words to
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