Going From Here to There — Got Ideas?
By Noah C. Zuss
If you’re wishing for a high-speed train over the traffic-soaked chaos of the Grand Central Parkway, or have dreams of a light rail whirring down Queens Blvd, now is your chance to speak up.
Queens commuters can give transportation officials a piece of their minds this Friday as the MTA will hold one of a series of interactive workshops where residents can voice their opinions on the state of the region’s transportation.
At previous workshops held this week in each of the five boroughs, commuters were encouraged to make comments and float ideas and suggestions about the state of their community’s transportation and its future.
In the past, these meetings have functioned as little more than lip service to frustrated straphangers, but according to Wiley Norvell of Transportation Alternatives, a non-profit advocacy group that is beginning to change.
As regional public transportation issues become more pressing because of rising gas prices and increasing traffic and congestion, elected officials have begun to pay more attention, Norell said.
“These workshops traditionally don’t amount to very much,” Norvell said. “On the other hand, this could be a transformative year and transportation is becoming elevated as a city issue and elected officials are paying more attention.”
Transportation issues were big news in 2008. Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan may have stalled in the State Legislature, but regardless it made headlines and sparked passionate debate.
The meetings are convened by the Metropolitan Transportation Council, a quasi-governmental oversight arm of the MTA.
The NYMTC is the metropolitan planning organization for New York City, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley. NYMTC was created in 1982 after the disbanding of the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission, a metropolitan planning organization for the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
In 1991, the federal transportation act was passed to organize a regional transportation network around every city over a certain population. The NYMTC was charged with organizing the regional network and is intended to serve as a transportation planning forum to allow the 10 counties it represents to coordinate with each other.
The goal of the meeting is to discuss new transportation plans, NYMTC’s goals for the region and its development vision, and the regional socio-economic and demographic forecasts that will form the foundation of future plans.
At stake is the region’s transportation future, including where federal monies allocated.
An official at NYMTC said in a release, “Billions of Federal dollars will be spent over the next 25 years to improve the region’s transportation system and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) wants your input into how that money should be spent.”
At the Queens meeting, held at the Borough President Office, NYMTC will unveil its 2010-2035 regional transportation plan and lay out a long-range framework for improving the region’s transportation system – its roads, bridges, freight and mass transit facilities, and its bicycle and pedestrian networks—to borough residents.
The Queens workshop is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, at the borough president’s office, Room 213, 120-55 Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens.