Traffic Mitigation Commission Meeting Pre-Spin

Ahead of this afternoon’s opening meeting of the 17-member Traffic Mitigation Commission, the Campaign for New York’s Future sends along a press release noting two recent studies about the impact of traffic congestion on the region’s health and economy:

NEW YORK, September 25, 2007 – The following may be attributed to Michael O’Loughlin, Director of the Campaign for New York’s Future:

"Today’s first meeting of the New York City Traffic Mitigation Commission is a welcome and essential step in our collective efforts to substantially reduce traffic congestion, clean our air and improve our mass transit system.

"The need for a plan to reduce gridlock, increase mass transit options and clean our air has never been clearer or more timely. Since the members of the commission were named, two more independent reports have been released, which once again demonstrate the enormous public health and economic rationale for quick and decisive action. A study published in September in the New England Journal of Medicine found that even limited exposure to traffic-related pollution by people with heart disease during exercise can trigger a heart attack and even death [There was this editorial too]. A separate study, also in September by the Texas Transportation Institute, found that traffic congestion in New York City continues to worsen and cost drivers 384 million hours sitting in traffic in 2005 (PDF).

"Members of the Campaign for New York’s Future, which includes leaders in the environmental, transportation, public health, civic, labor, business and environmental justice communities, stand ready to work with the Commission and to support the process of refining the most effective and equitable congestion reduction plan."

  • Dave

    I drove out of the city last Friday morning and spent 30 minutes gridlocked at the Midtown tunnel because of the contra-flow lane that allows three lanes into Manhattan and one out and the redirection of traffic related to it. It shouldb noted that there was minimal traffic coming in through that extra lane.

    The city should immediately end the contra-flow measures at the WillieB, Midtown tunnel and elsewhere…how insane is it that we facilitate driving into the city and then complain about the congestion it creates. And this would SAVE money; I wonder how much is spent on police O/T to implement this policy?

    The city can do many things at minimal cost to reduce congestion: getting rid of the contra-flow; reforming placard abuse, implementing city-wide permit parking are a few, that would help redue congestion without the high cost of CP.

    In general I support CP (though as a Manhattan resident in the zone I find it unduly burdens me vs other city residents who won’t have to pay $4 to drive down the block) but feel there are other simpler congestion remediation efforts that should be tried NOW.

  • Dave: One “simple congestion remediation effort that should be tried NOW” is to get rid of your car.

  • Wols

    Actually, if you stand on the Pulaski Bridge in morning rush hour you will see that the contra-flow lane moves a lot of buses past the jammed-up general traffic lanes on the LIE approach to the tunnel. Maybe not a lot of vehicles but a lot of people are moving well in that lane.

  • Dave

    Mike:
    My car sits in the garage in Manhattan during the week where I pay $400 for the pleasure of using it on the weekends. It adds nothing to traffic congestion.

    Wols:
    OK so make one lane in the tunnel for buses only and only let one lane of the tunnel be for individual cars. The idea is that if you make it more difficult for people to drive into the city then they won’t…what’s the saying…adding a lane to a road or highway does nothing to alleviate traffic as additional traffic finds and uses the additional volume. Take away the contra-flow lane and traffic will spike in the short-trm but will then likely decrease.

    Under Giuliani and Weinshall the city was made car-friendly at the expense of pedestrian and other street users. For example:
    – Giuliani corners in midtown where pedestrian are forced to cross the street three times to allow for easier turns.
    – The tragic redesign of Houston St adding left turn lanes at the expense of pedestrian space (how about banning left turns from Houston…traffic would figure a way to deal)
    – Contra-flow lanes. When were they added? I would not be surprised if they were added by Iris “make way for more cars” Weinshall.
    – Rampant placard abuse. Anyone have the figures on how many were in use under each mayor?

    Make it more difficult to enter the city and more expensive to park (ie permit parking and fewer meters) and traffic will be reduced more cost effectively than by CP. Revenues lost from CP would be gained from permit parking revenues and additional registrations from those forced to register in the city who now do so elsewhere (illegally).

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I can confirm Dave’s observation: a few weeks ago I was in slow-moving reverse-commute traffic on the Lincoln Tunnel and its approach road through Union City. It didn’t ease up until we got through the Palisades. But I was in a bus, so please stop throwing things!

    I think they should at least have dedicated bus-only lanes in both directions. One entire tube of the tunnel should be bus-only, and probably the inner lane of the approach road in both directions. At least. There are tons of buses using the tunnel now, and I’d love to see more. If they want to shift the lanes around during rush hours on the approach road, it’s not a big deal to me, as long as the buses are moving.

    FWIW, Dave, the tunnel is controlled by the Port Authority and 495 is controlled by NJ DOT, so you can’t blame this on Weinshall. I can’t say for sure who’s to blame.

  • Chris H

    They’ve actually maxed out the bus lane (XBL) and the PA is considering converting another to HO/T.

    http://www.panynj.gov/CommutingTravel/tunnels/pdfs/01_09_XBL-II_nwslttr_285fri.pdf

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Thanks for that link, Chris! I knew I’d read somewhere about that lane being maxed out. I found a more recent newsletter here:

    http://www.panynj.gov/CommutingTravel/tunnels/pdfs/XBLnwslttr9-06R1.pdf

    Operational Alternative 1 (converting one eastbound lane to HOV) is clearly the preferable of the four discussed. One thing that’s missing from both of those PDFs is the number of passengers who travel through the other three lanes. I’ll bet that the single counter-flow lane carries more passengers than the other three lanes combined – maybe even the three lanes plus the 2-3 lanes of 30th Street. Operational Alternative 1 would definitely carry more than these lanes.

    Hm, there doesn’t seem to be any news since last September on this issue.

    They should also look at other ways to accommodate more bus traffic, like dedicated bus lanes for the Holland Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge.

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