Friday, February 7, 2014

Agencies pass the buck on snow responsibilities

From the Daily News:

Navigating slick sidewalks in parts of Queens is turning out to be a challenge worthy of the winter Olympics, local civic leaders charged Tuesday.

Swaths of concrete paths along the Long Island Expressway service road are covered with ice and snow, forcing pedestrians to wade through slippery mounds of sludge.

With two storms looming on the horizon, the situation could get even more treacherous.

“The city tells us to clear snow from our sidewalks within four hours of a storm yet the city either rarely or never shovels sidewalks that they own in our community,” said Robert Holden of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“There are bridges, pedestrian walkways or areas next to the Long Island Expressway in Maspeth, Elmhurst and Middle Village that are never shoveled,” added Holden.

The group has complained for years about the problem, said Holden, but has still never determined which agency is responsible for clearing the paths.

The worst stretch is along 57th Ave. between 80th and 74th St., Holden insisted.

On Tuesday, the News witnessed at least one pedestrian struggle to regain her footing after she walked over the pedestrian overpass at 58th Road.

“While we had not received any complaint about this location, DOT crews addressed the pedestrian overpass connecting 58th Road and Mazeau Street yesterday, and are scheduled to do so again,” said a spokesman for the Transportation Department. “And while we have not received complaints about the 57th Ave. location, we will review any we do receive and we are checking our records to determine DOT's role addressing winter conditions here going forward.”

A spokesman for the city Sanitation Department said the agency would look into the issue.

Why isn't Transportation Alternatives all over this? Isn't walking an alternative to driving that should be encouraged?


Anonymous said...

I can't speak to anything TA has said specifically on this stretch of sidewalk, but transit/bike/walk/non-car people generally see it as problematic that the city takes responsibility for cleaning the streets, but pushes responsibility for clearing sidewalks onto property owners. And to make it worse, they don't make a habit of enforcing the law that says it must be cleared promptly after the storm ends. It's nice for property owners, since it lets them off the hook, but makes it that much more hazardous to get around when it snows. It isn't just snow removal, the city is responsible for the roads. Property owners are responsible for sidewalks.

Here's an old letter in TA magazine

'Sidewalk snow removal, which costs a fraction of road clearing, should unquestionably be considered a basic municipal service.'

There's nothing new with the city not maintaining sidewalks they are responsible for. The city used to be responsible for sidewalks throughout the city. But never maintained them. So a group of trial lawyers had people scour the city looking for dangerous conditions, so they could notify the city of the problem. Nothing was done to fix the sidewalks, so eventually when someone hurt themselves, they could sue NYC for knowingly allowing the hazardous conditions to persist. Instead of responding by doing a better job maintaining the sidewalks, they passed a law saying they aren't liable anymore, it's the property owners instead. TA among others had a problem with the bill if I remember correctly. They knew it would just lead to worsening conditions for walkers, and wanted the city to instead just fix the sidewalks.

Anonymous said...

TA on sidewalks from 2002:

'Sidewalks in Shambles
Irrational laws make it difficult to figure out who is responsible for keeping the sidewalks in walking order. Like the roads, the City owns the sidewalks. But landowners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in front of their property. If the sidewalk is not maintained, then the landowner is fined by the City, but if someone suffers an injury due to a poorly-maintained sidewalk then it is the City that is sued. This patchwork policy is illogical. The City owns and regulates the sidewalks and needs to take full responsibility for them. If they are damaged, then the City, not landowners, should fix them.'

Kevin Walsh said...

Transportation Alternatives just cares about bicycles.

Kevin Walsh said...

The old Scobee Diner site was never shoveled. The city laughs.

Anonymous said...

Transportation Alternatives, like almost all green initiatives, was hijacked by the development lobby to make the city 'greener' to both undo the damage from development (planting green stuff on your sidewalk because a developer across street built on his back yard) and accommodating more development.

Cleaning sidewalks has nothing to do with this agenda.

All it does is call attention to the sidewalks in front of stalled construction sites and absentee landlord buildings.

Besides, its just another step in hollowing out old neighborhoods (which because of their low density they want cleaned out in any case) and channeling resources to the new.

Anonymous said...

The sidewalks in Astoria are almog impassible - especially high traffic shopping streets like 30th Ave, Steinway, and Broadway. This hurts the merchants.

Every year it gradually gets worse.

We do not understand what happens to all that money that goes into C.A.L.D.C. Streets are a mess, the snow makes them impassible - in short - each year thinks slip little by little.

Perhaps local Czar George Stamatiades (who heads it) can issue a statement for the community from his basement office condo ....

Anonymous said...

Transportation Alternatives will say nothing critical of the city for fear it will sour their sweetheart deal with them.

Anonymous said...

Pass the buck and blame someone else - whenever responsibility is not clearly defined, it's always 'someone else's' problem to fix.

PS: yes, there's a lot of stores around astoria that have not shoveled. The banks ironically are the slowest to get around to paying someone to shovel, usually 8-24 hours after snow has stopped falling. Then there are others like metro PCS and GNC by the subway at Ditmars who just don't give a fuck about everyone sliding by on their ice covered sidewalks.

Anonymous said...

de Blasio does look a little like Lindsey, don't he? Is 2014 "The New 1969"?

Sons of Liberty said...

The bridge over pass for the LIRR on Grand Avenue and 80th street is always a disater after a snow storm. This is a major thoroughfare for pedestrians. Who is responsible for its clean up??

Joe Moretti said...

This entire city passes the buck, that is why shit does not get done or get done well.

Anonymous said...

The overpass going to my daughters school wasn't even shoveled yesterday! And today only one slither of it was shoveled and salted! This city is pathetic! You pay so much in taxes, but yet nothing is ever done properly!

Anonymous said...

after three calls to sanitation for snow plow and salt spreader, they visited the dead end streets between the L.I.R.R. and 42 ave from clrv. Exp.


Anonymous said...

Homeowners have 4 Hours or get fined.

If you are the government (adjacent to parks) or a private enterprise with lots of cash (freight rail lines like the ones through Glendale and Ridgewood), then no ticket for you.

Anonymous said...

102 police precient side walk along parlking lot not shoveled. 3 inch packed ice. Police as well as public may fall and be injured. I am not surprised as 102 building maintenance does not clean litter here year round.