What’s All the OUTRAGE About? Truck Traffic in North Brookyn

by Heather Van De Mark on

Here’s a brief re-cap of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint Organizations United for Trash Reduction and Garbage Equality (OUTRAGE) meeting last night.

First up:
Ray from OUTRAGE gave a brief introduction to the organization’s history. They are a coalition of community organizations who are focused on reducing truck traffic and waste transfer stations in North Brooklyn, as we’ve been carrying over 30% of the brunt of the city’s garbage for over a decade.

Mike from St. Nick’s Alliance also talked about their commitment to the community from working with youths to affordable housing to economic development. They’re one of the organizations working with OUTRAGE.

1st Presentation:
Robert Adams, Project Manager for NYS DOT, presented on the Kosciuszko Bridge Project. Here’s a little bit from the presentation:

  • The bridge was constructed in 1930 and opened to traffic in 1939.This project was initiated in 2002 to deal with the problems associated with the structure.
  • The bridge currently has a height of 125 ft above the creek water, which is no longer necessary.
  • It’s not just the bridge that is being affected, but a 1.1 mile span from the Meeker Ave. viaduct to the Long Island Expressway ramps.
  • The project is part of Cuomo’s “NY Works Program” and in 2011, the DOT approved it as a Design-Build, which means it’ll be finished sooner, will have a known cost, and will have better design innovation, and will limit disputes between design and construction.
  • It will be NYC’s first cable-stayed bridge.
  • Greenpoint’s section of the bridge/BQE is going to be shifted away from the residences. (Cherry St. will also be realigned.) Some vacant buildings on Cherry St. are going to be demolished to make way for this new construction. There will be little impact/change to streets in Queens.
  • They want to utilize barges and rail systems for bringing in construction material and equipment, again to reduce any impact neighborhood roads would face from the construction.
  • The first part of the project (the east bound lane) will be built off-line meaning there should be no traffic/truck diversions to neighborhood streets. When that’s completed, all traffic will move onto the new bridge. The old bridge and stretch of the BQE will be demolished and rebuilt to become the west bound lane of traffic.
  • When the entire new bridge opens, at a lower elevation, it’ll boast six standard lanes of traffic, a pedestrian/bike lane and improved auxiliary lanes (aka on and off ramps).
  • The pedestrian and bike lanes will be 3x the width of the current one on the Pulaski Bridge. It was also terminate in one of the new parks, open spaces that is going to be created. New parks, playgrounds and streetscape enhancements will be built where the current bridge is. That current land will become property of NYC Parks & Recreation.
  • Timeline: Phase 1 (east bound lane construction and demolition of current bridge) will begin in the Fall of 2013. Phase 2 (west bound construction) will begin in Spring 2018 and end in 2020.
  • The project includes several good for the neighborhood initiatives including non-traditional employment for women (NEW), disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE), and a local workforce initiative focused on providing training, certification, workshops and construction jobs to local residents.

Click the image below to view the full presentation [PDF – 5.8MB].

2nd Presentation:
Eric from OUTRAGE and Malcolm from CW Diana Reyna’s office are heading an Illegal Truck Traffic Advisory Taskforce to reduce the amount of illegal truck traffic that goes off designated truck routes in the neighborhood. Their goal is to get a multitude of agencies together in the same room to talk about these issues and discuss who is responsible for what aspects of enforcement.

They’re asking residents to complete a truck log (below) and submit it to them by April 3rd. If you don’t want to use the logs, you can also snap a photo with your phone and e-mail it to OUTRAGE or send it to them via Facebook or Twitter with the location and day/time.

If you’re unsure what illegal truck traffic is, it’s better to write it down or take a photo and submit the information and members of the Taskforce will sort through the data. They want to use the results of the logs to compile data and bring that data to the attention of various city/local offices and agencies to highlight specific areas that need enforcement or follow through.

What can a citizen do to enforce local truck laws? Call 311 as that creates a log number and a paper trail and it’s easier to follow-up on. Submit that log number to OUTRAGE.

3rd Presentation:
CM Steve Levin spoke briefly to offer his support on these issues as he’s lived on Morgan Ave. for years and truck traffic has always been an issue. He mentioned that he spoke to the new Police Chief of the 94th precinct recently about enforcing truck stops. He called for real engagement and continued efforts from community members.

4th Presentation:
Ronda Messer from the DOT came to answer general questions. The majority of the conversation revolved around Maspeth Avenue and Cooper Park. Neighborhood residents want to see calming measures put in place as it’s a dangerous area and there’s no way to safely cross the streets to get to Cooper Park.

Messer strongly encouraged everyone to send an e-mail to her with specific details of their request – be a signal study, speed bump study or other – for a specific area/street and it’ll be investigated by the appropriate committee at the city DOT.

An audience member from Transportation Alternatives briefly mentioned their goal as a non-profit to advocate as and on behalf of city residents to reclaim city streets for biking, walking and public transit.

Meeting Closed.

Heather Van De Mark

Heather Van De Mark

Heather is a designer/writer specializing in non-profit organizations and social causes. Originally from central NY, Heather settled into the charming Greenpoint neighborhood in 2011. While most of her community activism takes place from behind a computer screen, Heather can often be found at CB1 meetings, the McCarren Park track and any of the parks along the waterfront.