Volume 18 • Issue 51 | May 5 - 11, 2006

Letters to the Editor

Traffic problem

To The Editor:
I read with interest, your article about Lori Ardito (news article, April 14 – 20, “The woman in charge of Downtown’s curvy streets”). Please be advised that you will have a much bigger problem with traffic and any other area that the Dept. of Transportation is connected to, now that she has taken over as borough commissioner for Lower Manhattan. As usual, somebody has to be the victim when a city agency plays musical chairs with its commissioners.

Ardito’s record in Brooklyn is one of disastrous failures and mismanagement. During her tenure, she made herself available only to those power and pressure groups that she could not avoid. When confronted by ordinary citizens with positive proposals and ideas to do away with a lot of the mess relating to traffic, she chose to simply ignore them. Her standard procedure was to tell them, “Go see your elected officials and have them contact me.”

Even though the commissioner made some stops in the evening at meetings, she refused to address issues other than the very narrow ones being discussed at that time.

To add insult to injury, she continued to use a consulting firm which has cost New York tens of millions of dollars and accomplished nothing in return.

D.O.T. is the most mismanaged and one of the poorest functioning agencies in the entire city. Rather than help traffic, they continue to impede it, thus adding to the pollution problems we have. In hopes of repairing this, several members of the City Council have introduced an amendment to the law (Intro. 177), making it mandatory that any future commissioner must have a background and education in traffic in order to get a job at D.O.T. Rest assured, it is being fought by the current head of that agency, Iris Weinshall. It’s FEMA all over again, but at a municipal level.

I hope that the community boards in Lower Manhattan have a few good people on their traffic and transportation committees, or you will face the same misfortune that Brooklyn faced when Ardito sat there. Her people were notorious for bad signage, often misplaced, poor street repair or no repair where it is desperately needed, and miserable control over traffic lights.

It is sad that an agency which is so important to commerce and industry as well as public transportation in our city, is such a monumental failure. Somebody should approach the mayor before it is too late. Oh, for a return to the days of Commissioner Barnes, who knew how to fix traffic problems and did so.

Allen Bortnick
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn


Second Ave. trolley

To The Editor:
Re “Jane Jacobs, urban planning pioneer, is dead at 89” (obituary, April 28 – May 4) and “First 2nd Ave. stops would connect with Downtown” (news article April 21 - 27):

Al Amateau’s wonderful obit about Jane Jacobs was much appreciated.

And Josh Rogers’s Second Ave. subway piece — about connecting with Downtown — well, all but the most able-bodied subway riders would know to walk across the platform at 14th St. to switch to the R (or on weekdays to the W) for the trip Downtown, rather than wander through the passageways at Canal St. While the portion of the Second Ave. subway that might get built in most lifetimes will be a small fraction of the whole route, it would make sense to supplement this with a surface light-rail line from 125th St. to Whitehall St. Per-mile cost would be one-tenth that of the subway, and it could be built more quickly, with less disruption.

George Haikalis
Village Crosstown Trolley Coalition president

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