From the Times Ledger:
The state Senate Transportation Committee has canceled an eagerly anticipated meeting to consider concerns about the traffic effects posed by the $3 billion development project slated for the 62-acre Willets Point site in northern Queens.
Scheduled in response to concerns brought forward by a group lobbying on behalf of Willets Point small business owners, the meeting was canceled less than a week before it was slated to occur. The cancellation disappointed the group’s members and further tabled discussions on widespread community concerns about the traffic the massive project will bring to the region’s already-jammed roadways.
Richard Lipsky, the lobbyist at the helm of the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, alleges that the city Economic Development Corp. and the state Department of Transportation have misrepresented the severe effects on traffic the project will have throughout eastern and northern Queens. He has urged the Senate to investigate the issue.
A consulting firm hired by the EDC reported to the Council that 46 percent of projected traffic from Willets Point would be diverted to the Van Wyck, Lipsky said. The same firm later reported to the state DOT that only 16 percent of that traffic would go to the Van Wyck.
And from the NY Times:
State officials have repeatedly expressed frustration with the city’s inability to provide reliable information and the pressure it was placing on them to expedite their analysis, according to a review of hundreds of e-mails involving the Willets Point project that were provided to The New York Times by an opponent of the project.
Michael Bergmann, a structural engineer for the State Department of Transportation who was part of the team reviewing the city’s application, wrote to the department’s regional director and other colleagues on Dec. 28: “Unless the preparers of this report start accepting the idea that it is seriously flawed, we are going nowhere.”
About a month later, after pointing out a mistake in a document that put the development’s completion date as 2107 instead of 2017, Peter King, a project manager for the state, wrote to a colleague, “Perhaps that reference to 2107 may have been closer to the truth than anyone realizes.”
What seems unusual is the annoyance state regulators expressed with the work of the consultants hired by the city to work on the ramps’ design. The consultants submitted numerous written responses and clarifications to questions and sat with the regulators in several meetings, but still failed to satisfy them, the messages show.
Well now we know why the hearing was canceled.