Nolan Advocates for Queens in Congestion Pricing Debate

November 19, 2007

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan provided commentary about the importance of community involvement and the need for intense scrutiny in the debate over congestion pricing at a recent Department of Transportation workshop on neighborhood parking, held on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City.

“I would like to note that the subject of a parking plan for Long Island City is too important to deserve such little advance notice. It should not be held on the same day at the same time as the Hunter’s Point South Advisory Committee Meeting, and the Community Board 1 Zoning and Variance Committee Meeting, and the 114th Precinct Awards Night. And it should not be held in a site so inaccessible by public transportation. How ironic that a meeting centered on a discussion of public transit should depend on shuttle buses from the nearest subway stations, both of which are currently non ADA compliant – and any transportation plan for our area should address that inequity,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.

Nolan said that while PlanNYC is an ambitious plan to transform the city there is a long way to go to reach a consensus that is safe and effective for all those involved.

At the top of Nolan’s list of concerns is the need for the community to be involved in the process from beginning to end. “I would urge the New York City Department of Transportation to listen more closely and work more closely with the local Community Boards. The Community Board should lead this process since they understand the needs of the neighborhoods most intimately. It diminishes the plan to have it imposed on our community rather than thoughtfully discussed,” Assemblywoman Nolan said.

Assemblywoman Nolan is not in favor of a residential parking permit system. “It is not good for our Queens neighborhoods, an area with inadequate bus service, but one that still thrives on the free flow of neighbors between the communities”.

Nolan has requested that any discussion focus on how such as system would affect residential parking, parking for merchant areas, traffic flow and pedestrian safety. “Our location here in Long Island City means that many commuters seeking to avoid the fee will park here. The likely scenario would be that early drivers would get the spots, later arrivals would cruise the streets looking for spots, and local congestion would increase,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.

Assemblywoman Nolan rejected proposals which would have the most negative impact on Queens.

“It is clear that any measure to divert people from the Long Island Expressway to the Queensboro and to parking in Long Island City and Woodside should be abandoned. Also, the plan to create LIC as a ferry hub other than for local service or as a vehicle destination point should not be approved. I submit that the Shea/Flushing Marina and other points east, including some on Long Island should be considered,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.

“We need to encourage the creation of parking further west and closer to highways as opposed to boulevards. Parking in Shea/Willets Point should be key with the planned redevelopment of the large municipal lot in downtown Flushing,” said Nolan.

Nolan and her colleagues in the New York State Assembly voted to create a legislative commission to examine the issue of congestion pricing and parking/traffic mitigation during a special session in July. Nolan said that those findings as well as full environmental impact studies of proposals, such as one that would divert cars and traffic to Woodside and LIC, should be part of the local and statewide discussion.

“All those involved, including New York City, New York State, The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and PANNYNJ, must endeavor to encourage projects that motivate drivers to leave their cars at home by initiating mass transit trips that reasonably compare to a trip by car,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.

“I look forward to further discussion and a possible January series of meetings on how we as a community can work together to improve our mass transit system and in doing so, improve the quality of our daily lives,” said Nolan.