Staten Island Dems To Call For Transportation 'czar'

 

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Massive construction projects on Staten Island and in Brooklyn over the past few months have created transportation nightmares on the Staten Island Expressway, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Gowanus Expressway.

If only there was a transportation "czar," who could oversee all the projects on the table, and help coordinate the timing of the work to keep disruptions to a minimum.

That's the proposal Island Democrats will present in Albany this week, as State Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblymen Michael Cusick and Matthew Titone prepare to introduce a bill to establish a city of New York transportation project coordinator.

The coordinator would be responsible for working with liaisons from upstate and Long Island, as well as the city and state Transportation departments, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the city's Department of City Planning.

"All you have to do is take a look at what happened on Staten Island this summer and early fall," Ms. Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said, pointing to simultaneous work on the Gowanus, the bridge, the toll plaza, and a paving job on the Staten Island Expressway, which created massive traffic jams.

"It's simply common sense that someone will have to look at the projects and determine what will start and when so it will have the least impact on people's lives," Ms. Savino said.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council already offers a collaborative planning forum, including members of the region's transportation agencies. But Ms. Savino said her proposal will enable one person nominated by the mayor and appointed by the governor to make decisions.

"We know there are a vast number of projects going on at one time, and we think that if there is one person who organizes and sees and realizes how many projects are going on and how they are interconnected, that things will move smoothly and we won't run into the dilemmas we had during the last couple of months with the renovation of the Verrazano Bridge," said Cusick (D-Mid-Island).

With so many large capital projects planned years in advance, the idea is to take time to arrange the work schedules.

"I'm sure this isn't the first time there have been projects that need to be done by two different agencies that clash and create even bigger problems," said Titone (D-North Shore). "It's a really common sense piece of legislation. It's such a simple solution to a complex problem."