For immediate release: May 14, 2015
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Brooklyn Endorsements for Move NY Fair Plan Roll In
From Crown Heights to Brooklyn Heights, 3 Community Boards and 7 Civic Groups Call for Better Transit, Smarter Funding
Move NY Plan Will Equalize Tolls, Reduce Traffic, & Modernize Subway System
(New York, NY) Three community boards and seven civic associations in Brooklyn, from Brooklyn Heights to Crown Heights and Park Slope, have announced their support for the Move NY Fair Plan after several months of vigorous debate and community outreach. Neighborhoods covered by the Community Boards include: Boerum Hill, Bridge Plaza, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Clinton Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Farragut Houses, Fort Greene, Fulton Ferry Landing, Vinegar Hill, Wallabout, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Columbia Street District, Gowanus, Park Slope, Red Hook, North Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Weeksville.
Community Boards 2, 6 and 8 and civic associations — Boerum Hill Association; Brooklyn Heights Association; Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association; Cobble Hill Association; Park Slope Civic Council; Park Slope Neighbors; and Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council — took individual votes after jointly organizing a town hall at the YWCA in Downtown Brooklyn in February, at which nearly 100 local residents heard about the plan from its architect, “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, and Move NY Campaign Director Alex Matthiessen.
Under the plan, tolls on the city’s outer bridges, including the Verrazano and Cross Bay bridges, would be lowered by up to 48%, while tolls would be added to the once-tolled East River bridges and across 60th Street. As a result, congestion would decrease in the Manhattan Central Business District by up to 20 percent, and in surrounding neighborhoods by up to 10 percent. The increase in net revenue — $1.5 billion per year — would go to capital transportation improvements. When bonded, that net revenue could fill much of the current $14 billion gap in the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Plan.
“These Brooklyn community boards and civic groups did their homework and endorsed the Move NY plan after a full give-and-take with us,” said Alex Matthiessen, Move NY’s Campaign Director. “They get it: The Move NY Fair plan would help fix Brooklyn’s subways, add bus service, provide targeted fare relief and deliver smoother and safer roads and bridges for Brooklyn’s drivers. Without a smart funding plan like this one, these Brooklyn leaders understand their borough’s future is one of crowded and delayed subways and pothole-riven roads.”
Gib Veconi, chair of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, noted that “Studies have found that 30 percent of all traffic congestion in Downtown Brooklyn comes from vehicles headed for the free East River bridges. It’s time to equalize tolls so we keep through traffic off local streets and put it back on the highways where it belongs.”
Eric McClure, CB6 transportation committee co-chair and co-founder of Park Slope Neighbors, added, “Currently, high tolls on the Verrazano Bridge and free rides on the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges encourage drivers with no destination in our neighborhoods, or even in Manhattan, to use city streets instead of taking highways. The bigger a truck you drive, the more money you save by using city streets.”
James Ellis, executive director of the North Flatbush BID, agreed, saying “the increase of traffic, especially trucks, using Flatbush Avenue instead of taking more direct routes on highways, undermines the walkability and attractiveness of our commercial corridor. The North Flatbush Business Improvement District actively works to increase pedestrian safety and Move NY addresses concerns that would alleviate unnecessary congestion and minimize truck traffic—allowing for our businesses to be better serviced and preserving the pedestrian experience.”
The community boards and civic associations also praised the Move NY Fair Plan’s ability to raise sorely needed revenues for the city’s transportation infrastructure. “Public transportation and highway reconstruction have been underfunded for years,” noted Shirley A. McRae, chairperson of Brooklyn Community Board 2. “The Move NY plan will create a new source of revenue for critical infrastructure with the added benefits of new and improved mass transit, safer streets and reduced air pollution. This is not just congestion pricing, but a whole new, more equitable framework for transportation in New York City.”
Brooklyn Heights Association President Patrick Killackey echoed that position, noting “The Move NY Fair Plan will allocate $375 million annually to city roads and bridges, so we can finally get moving on desperately needed but unfunded work like reconstructing the BQE Triple Cantilever over our neighborhood.”
Gary Reilly, Chair of CB6 and Transportation Chair of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, said that Move NY will help address transit challenges the area faces: “Subway ridership just hit a 65-year high systemwide, while ridership at the Smith and 9th station is up 40% this year. The Move NY Fair Plan’s improvements to service will help the system cope with that growth.”
Lauri Schindler, trustee of the Park Slope Civic Council elaborated, “One of our neighborhood’s main subway lines, the F, was late almost 30% of the time last year. The Move NY Fair Plan will fund a modernization of the signaling system with 21st century technologies that will allow trains to run faster and more often.”
Paco Abraham, President of the Cobble Hill Association, noted the plan will dedicate 10 percent of the net revenues it raises to community transportation enhancements and said “we look forward to working with our elected officials to choose the investments that would most help our community.”
Boerum Hill Association President Howard Kolins said that his community supported Move NY’s proposals to reduce traffic in Downtown Brooklyn and increase transit service, despite concerns that more drivers will park in the neighborhood and take local subways into Manhattan: “Studies show that very few drivers get out of their cars so close to their destination but it would still be noticeable in our neighborhood. We think Albany should authorize New York City to implement Residential Parking Districts along with the Move NY Fair Plan.”
Rob Witherwax, CB8 Vice-Chair and Transportation Committee chair, expressed the collective hope that legislators will move quickly to enact the Move NY Fair Plan: “This is a plan that will meet our communities’ transportation needs in an equitable way,” Mr. Witherwax said. “We commend Move NY for their diligent outreach to communities across the city and call on our elected officials to rise to the occasion and help secure our city’s future by passing this plan.”
For details about the Move NY Fair Plan, please visit ihearthmoveny.org
Contact information for press follow-up with community leaders is available on request.