As part of NYS Department of Transportation’s study to rehabilitate the triple Cantilever portion of I-278, the DOT is taking a preliminary look at a number of options that include repairing, reconstructing or relocating the highway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street. At the last Stakeholder Advisory Committee Meeting on May 26th, the consultant and the State presented some initial sketches: (a) keeping the existing highway alignment with very minor changes, (b) keeping the existing alignment and fully compliant with DOT roadway design criteria; and (c) a tunnel alignment.
Because Proposal (b) was fully compliant, it was an exercise in seeing what might happen if the project were not constrained by existing structures, parkland, etc. Several audience members misunderstood the investigative nature of the presentation and became concerned that NYSDOT was preparing to seize their properties as part of the project. In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, the story picked up momentum by the media and was blown out of proportion.
As one of the member groups of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee, the BHA would oppose any taking of residential property in our Historic District. We do not believe that NYSDOT would seriously consider a solution that would take private property but we also understand that as part of any initial design process, engineers examine many alternatives in order to learn about the constraints, complexities and opportunities in each potential solution.
Many citizens and elected officials, in the past, have criticized NYS DOT because it had ignored citizen input on proposed projects. In this project and others, the State has subscribed to an open process that includes the participation of citizens and community groups. All proposed alternatives will be screened using the evaluation criteria – and property taking is one important aspect of the criteria. This is a long, complicated project with plenty of opportunity for public input.
In this kerfuffle the NYS DOT was a victim of technology. In the past, architects and engineers used yellow tracing paper to show a design in process; it made clients understand that things could be changed. Today digital design make schemes “look” fully realized when they are simply sketches.
Click here for more information on the BHA’s position regarding the BQE.