November/December 1994, p.2

Letters

Editor: Although we have moved to our own green farm raising cattle and veggies in Pennsylvania, we still enjoy receiving your paper. Regarding your Local Track reference to the proposed Manhattan/ Bronx connection for parking space at Yankee Stadium, we are not surprised that NY State Transportation Commissioner John Egan has described this absurd project as "wonderful" Egan is the very same moron who squandered a million dollars of the taxpayers money putting decorative lighting on the Tappan Zee Bridge as an unwanted, unnecessary and wasteful "present" to the people of New York.
Charles Morris (Former New Yorker)

Editor: Fine critique on electric cars in the Sept./Oct. Auto-Free Press. Good Work!
Art Weber, Berkeley, CA

Editor: In response to your Road Builders Duck Environmental, Economic Review which claims that our members are not meeting the new federal requirements for Major Investment Analyses (MIA). I disagree. The MIA requirements in ISTEA apply to proposed projects which would expand capacity in a corridor or sub-area Metropolitan Planning Organizations such as NYMTC are required to work with state transportation departments and transit operators to determine which projects come under the MIA requirements. We did. We prepared a preliminary list of projects on the current Transportation Improvement Program that would appear to fall under the MIA requirements. We did so in cooperation with our members, it was hardly unilateral. We also made the list public. At this point, our members have not approved the list They have decided that two projects, including the Cross Westchester Expressway, have already met the MIA requirements. These projects were well advanced when the MIA requirements became effective. We have revised the list We have drafted proposed criteria to evaluate future projects. These include procedures that we and the project sponsor will follow when we have an MIA. We will distribute both drafts to the public in October. Thank you for your interest in the Council. I appreciate your help in expanding your visibility and in holding us accountable.
Raymond R. Ruggieri, Director,
New York Metropolitan Transportation Council

Reply: NYMTC's preliminary decisions as to which NY region projects were suitable for ISTEA mandated MLA's was made without any public input. Moreover, it was released prior to the release of criteria by which the list was formed. The criteria, it turns out, are quite reasonable, but in their light, the list of projects makes no sense. The Gowanus reconstruction, for example, meets at least one criterion by adding a lane to the roadway's median, yet was omitted. Ruggieri's claim that planning for the Cross-Westchester is "well advanced" is not (by our measure) accurate, because that project has not yet completed environmental review procedures. Both the Gowanus and Cross-Westchester are the subject of intense public concern and protest, and have inspired numerous citizen-sponsored proposals. NYMTC and the State DoT should do the right thing and initiate MIA's for each project now. Finally, the Federal Transit Administration should be ashamed for having signed off on the initial list.

Editor: Thank you for printing my letter about cars on the Staten Island Ferry. However, either I am not expressing myself clearly or you are missing my point because your reply implies that my argument doesn't hold up and I might as well take public transportation anyway because I can just as well wait for the late night ferry as a pedestrian as in my car. If this were the case I would agree with you. Unless I am willing to risk waits of up to an hour and sometimes two hours for the ferry every night followed by a long, dangerous walk home in no matter what kind of weather because the buses from the ferry to my house have stopped running, thus getting myself to bed at 2:00 or 3:00 AM when I have to get up at 6:00 AM, and unless I am willing to subject myself to the unsavory conditions that go along with this pilgrimage through hell I cannot use public transportation. I must drive my car into Manhattan so I can have it there to get home. Given this outrageous situation, all I am saying is that it makes sense from every angle for me to take my car into Manhattan on the ferry as opposed to driving it in through Brooklyn. The whole setup stinks, but for now that's the way it is. I hate cars. I hate them on our streets, I hate driving them, I hate almost everything about them, and I have and I will continue to do anything I reasonably can to eliminate them. But I will not ruin my health, my marriage, my state of mind, and last but not least my ability to work and especially to give a good performance simply on principle, and with the current state of public transportation that is exactly what you are asking me to do if you tell me that I can just as well leave my car home as not.
William H. Ellis Staten Island

Reply: We apologize for our miscommunication. We did not mean to suggest that heroic and unreasonable sacrifices are required by you or anyone else. Given the sad state of public transportation on Staten Island, we recognize the difficulty SI residents have in getting around without a car. What we did want to communicate is that from a larger policy perspective, we still oppose the return of cars to the ferry. We do not do so in a vacuum. We couple this stand with a call for improved public transit on SI. Sadly, while cars were not on the ferry, Staten Island's political leaders used their political clout to get cars back, instead of to improve your bus service. Now that cars are back on the ferry, we fear they will exert even less pressure to improve Staten Island's transit services. In addition, the return of cars to the ferry destroys plans for a pedestrian esplanade in Manhattan, one of the few pedestrian amenities the City has approved recently, and it makes rebuilding the ferry terminal much more expensive. At a time when nearly every new City expenditure is subject to overwhelming scrutiny, we lament that a new car-related expense has been added with virtually no public attention.