May/June 1999, p.10

Gowanus Tunnel Option Getting Shafted

Legislation just introduced by State Assemblywoman Joan Millman and Senate Minority Leader Marty Connor requires the State Department of Transportation to fund a study by independent experts to assess replacing Brooklyn's decrepit Gowanus Expressway with a submerged interstate and street-level boulevard. The State DOT claims that it will fairly compare both the modern tunnel-boring technique and the traditional cut-and-cover tunnel construction with building a new elevated highway, but T.A. and the Gowanus Expressway Community Coalition have their doubts.

At recent public meetings, the DOT painted a dismal picture of tunneling, combining all of the drawbacks of cut-and-cover and tunnel-boring technology into a generic list of "tunneling" complaints.

The agency repeatedly failed to mention any of the benefits of tunneling and listed problems, like having to condemn land for new exits, which are also on the elevated option's problem list. The DOT even sunk so low as to raise the ridiculous specter of having to uproot graves in Greenwood Cemetery.

Since the DOT clearly doesn't want to build a tunnel, it cannot be trusted with evaluating the tunnel as an option. While the Millman/Connor legislation would assure that the tunnel option gets a fair hearing, Governor Pataki should show good faith by directing the DOT to give money to an independent study group now. After more than a decade of bad faith by the DOT, the community that lives in the shadow of the monstrous Gowanus Expressway deserves, and demands, a fair process.

Write to the Governor and ask him to direct DOT to give at least one-third of its Gowanus study funds to an independent research organization, like the Council on Transportation, to perform the tunnel portion of its Gowanus Expressway Environmental Impact Statement.

George E. Pataki, Governor of New York
Executive Chamber
Albany NY 12224

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