Wednesday, March 26, 2008

If You Build It (the FDR Memorial) They Will Come (But How?)

One of the most striking statements made by a Roosevelt Island resident at last night's FDR Memorial Town Hall meeting was in regards to concerns how our limited transportation infrastructure will handle the expected tourists and park goers attracted to the new memorial.

It was a very passionate speech pointing out that the current subway outages and pending Tram overhaul severely taxes the system with the current ridership much less the expected increase. It was pointed out that annually the system is simply overrun each July Fourth by visitors to Southpoint who come to view the fireworks. This says nothing of how Main Street, our only street, is overrun by cars.

Many visitors will come by car looking for a space to park. Some will park at Motorgate others may drive to Southpoint simply to park on the street outside its entrance when they realize no facility or lot exists for this purpose.

Those that come by mass transit will look for a Red Bus to take them South. Today the Red Buses stop at the Tram. Certainly we can expect RIOC to extend the routes once the parks are complete. At least we expect this to occur. Residents will of course benefit but also complain as this might delay their trips North to their apartments slightly. That is inevitable but the benefits will for them as well.

Who knows how many people will come for the memorial (and the TPL Wild Gardens park that will sit between Goldwater Hospital and the FDR Memorial) on an average weekend and whether the system will be taxed as it is each July Fourth. Certainly a hundred to two hundred visitors should not create havoc. The transportation infrastructure is an issue we have been dealing with and likely will have to face true collapse before improvements are made. It took the April 2006 tram outage for anyone outside the island to understand the issues. Perhaps movement will depend on disappointed tourists making their voices heard as few are listening to the residents.

If they build it they will come. Don't expect a perfectly smooth ride.

Update 12:30 p.m.

As noted last night, by Stephen Shane, RIOC president and CEO :

"before any project could go forward, a SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act] would presumably have to be completed, requiring an initial assessment of impact and as necessary, a fuller EIS [environmental impact study] which would examine the impacts from the proposed development, including traffic and parking, with such mitigation measures as would be appropriate to be specified."

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