NEW YORK, Nov. 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A major new ad campaign – across TV, print and social media – is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio not to undermine his own Vision Zero traffic safety program. The first ads will run December 1.
The Zero Vision campaign highlights the Administration's plan to run more than 150 garbage trucks a day between two children's playgrounds en route to a new garbage facility – the 91st Street Marine Transfer Station – on the Upper East Side. Construction of the station has begun, but stakeholders say there is still time to change the most contested feature: the location of the truck ramp to access the facility.
"If the Administration had thrown a dart into the neighborhood, they could not have hit a worse location for this ramp," says Sam Schwartz, an engineer and former Commissioner of the New York Department of Traffic. "There is a cost-effective alternative just one block away that would slash the risk of pedestrian casualties."
The proposed ramp would cut straight through the campus of Asphalt Green, a non-profit athletic center for children and families serving the area for 25 years. Asphalt Green sees 1 million visitors a year, with over 100,000 children making use of the playing fields that flank one side of the proposed ramp; DeKovats Park for toddlers borders the other side.
Asphalt Green's Executive Director Maggy Siegel is watching construction in real-time from her office window. "Routing more than 150 garbage trucks a day between a toddler park and playing field isn't Vision Zero, it's Zero Vision," she said. "Moving the ramp just one block would be a win-win for the Mayor and for the community."
Safety and health are the two main concerns with the current plan. Pedestrian volumes at 91st and York are among the highest in the neighborhood because of community members visiting Asphalt Green. Meanwhile, the intersection just one block north at 92nd Street shows much more limited use – pedestrian counts at peak hours showed only half the number of children crossing at 92nd Street vs. 91st Street.
A broad coalition supports moving the ramp just one block to the north at 92nd and York, including Asphalt Green, grassroots neighborhood group Pledge 2 Protect, New York City Housing Administration residents, developers, city council members and other electeds.
"There are many benefits with the community's preferred alternative on York and 92nd," says Sam Schwartz. "You move trucks away from the busiest residential intersections, you put them at a service road designed for that purpose, you run the ramp along the FDR and around the back of Asphalt Green, allowing the building to block noise and air pollution."
City engineers have confirmed the feasibility of the proposed alternative location on 92nd and York, but stakeholders say there is no indication the Administration is listening. Mayor de Blasio has designated New York Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in charge of the project.
"We have met with Commissioner Garcia repeatedly. She says she is considering ramp alternatives, but months down the line, nothing has changed," Ms. Siegel says. "Just last week we learned – for the first time – that portions of our fields will need to be emptied several times a day during construction, seriously disrupting the important services we provide to tens of thousands of children every year. It's time to get the Mayor's attention."
"Mayor de Blasio has supported the East Side garbage facility as part of a 5-borough plan to share the burden," says Asphalt Green board chair Andy Nussbaum. "But he also has stated his commitment to traffic and pedestrian safety. It is time for the City to face the reality of the risks of this facility and this ramp location -- by moving the ramp just one block and addressing our community's other concerns, the City can finally live up to its commitment to all New Yorkers. It just makes sense."
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