2016-06-08 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Bike Problem In F. Hills

To The Editor:

I am writing to you in hopes that by publishing my story and featuring it in your paper it will bring other victims out of the woodwork and we can be heard to have this problem addressed instead of being ignored. I have written to senators, assemblymen, and the Queens Borough President. Now with the warmer weather there is an increased problem.

Bicyclists, some of them delivery people and some just young adults focused on their own enjoyment, speed on the sidewalks on bicycles on 108th Street in Forest Hills, where there are lots of pedestrians, many of whom are slow moving and of advanced age, and there are many close calls. Several summers ago, my father who was 83 at the time, was knocked down unconscious by two adolescent speeding bicyclists. Since then, I have almost been hit, and both my sons have been hit by bicyclists though not severely hurt and my mother, also of advanced age, was knocked down and bruised by a cyclist on the sidewalk. There should be cameras, and if the cyclists were forced to have registered license plates on their cycles they could be caught and identified and fined if they do not have the registered plates.

Many injuries from speeding cyclists are as bad as being hit by vehicle. My father was almost killed when it happened to him and he spent that entire summer severely bruised and in intense pain healing and it should not happen. When he was hit the cyclists knew they hit him but just sped off – that is hit and run and willful display of blatant disregard for causing injury. I do not want a neighbor or family member to suffer irreparable injury before something is done.

I find it unfathomable that my 83-year-old father, a Holocaust survivor was almost murdered on June 10, 2013 because of two racing cyclists on the sidewalk that day, and after knocking him unconscious they did not even stop to see if he was alright or how badly they had hurt him and did not show regard for this elderly person and just took off and kept going.

That is criminal hit-and-run and disregard for human life and it was not the only time my family has been hit by cyclists on the sidewalk, racing, speeding, knocked down from behind and close calls with food delivery mopeds all in Forest Hills, but the case with my father was the worst. The disregard will continue until there is a crackdown and the cyclists should have ID on the back of their bikes like cars do because bikes can cause as much or more damage. And cameras cannot catch offenders without license plate-type ID and there need to be more cameras.

I will attach the picture of my father’s injury and the sign he posted requesting any witness to come forward (there were witnesses, but none came forward and the cyclists were never caught.)

Thanks and I hope you show this as a report it is a very big problem especially for seniors.

Judith Berman
Forest Hills

Fulfill Commitment

To The Editor:

A current graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Keenan Reynolds, requested his service time be deferred so he can play in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens drafted him.

As a former Navy enlisted man and officer, I am highly disappointed with Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, who submitted a request to the Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, strongly recommending Reynold’s service be deferred. Carter approved the request.

The United States taxpayers paid for Reynold’s schooling at the Naval Academy, along with the schooling of thousands of other Academy midshipmen. These are future officers who are expected to serve in the U.S. Navy after they graduate, and many of them make a career in our Navy. And they signed a contract.

If Reynold’s commitment can be deferred why can’t other midshipmen have their service time deferred? Why can’t deferments occur for baseball players, or midshipmen who want to enter civilian graduate schools, or enter the corporate world or business world?

SECNAV and SECDEF should rethink their approval of the deferment and have Reynolds fulfill his commitment to the Navy. Donald Moskowitz

Londonderry, NH

SBS Financing

To The Editor:

It should be no surprise that “Community Overwhelmingly Against DOT, MTA SBS Plan” (June 1). I previously predicted that both the cost and timetable for completion of the proposed Woodhaven Blvd. Select Bus Service project would grow. Early this year, NYCDOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg testified at a NYC Council Transportation Committee meeting. As part of her testimony, Ms. Trottenberg announced that the proposed project budget had doubled, growing from $200 to $400 million. She went on to announce that completion of all work has slipped from 2019 to 2025.

After only several months, NYCDOT postponing progression of the project one year has now resulted in the estimated cost doubling in price. It could also potentially result in loss of Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts funding for Phase 2 of the project. The full build project costs for Phase 2 are based upon planning initiatives with little design and engineering efforts completed to date, which would validate actual construction costs. They still need to be refined as the project progresses in final design from 30% to 100% completion. The USDOT FTA completed the environmental review process in July 2015. This resulted in NYCDOT obtaining a Categorical Exclusion for the project. Depending upon future results of the ongoing additional one year public outreach process, USDOT FTA might have to revisit the environmental finding determination. NYCDOT has an obligation for reporting any significant changes in scope as a result of the ongoing public outreach process after July 2015. NYCDOT may have to update the environmental finding. Process for completing any updated environmental finding with USDOT FTA could take several months or more. This depends upon how extensive are any proposed new changes in scope. No one will really know the full project costs until construction contracts for Phase 2 are awarded. Remember that this may not happen for until 2019 or later. There are usually contract change orders during construction, which add to the final cost.

The actual cost at the end could easily come in millions of dollars higher. Finding $400 million is a far more significant challenge than $200 million. Successful completion of the New Starts process which culminates in the federal government’s entering into a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) to guarantee the original request of $75 million toward a total project cost of $231 million averages several years. These dollar numbers come from the most recent USDOT FTA New Starts Report published in 2015. Since that time, other numbers called for a project cost of $200 million with a federal share of $100 million. Today, it appears the project costs have doubled. There is good reason for concern by both taxpayers and riders as to the real cost. Will NYCDOT now be looking for between $100 to $200 million in federal funding to assist in covering additional project costs? All of the above will be challenging to obtain. This will depend upon the length of continued delays in the progress of development for Phase 2 of the project. Over the next several years, other projects which are closer to being shovel-ready may be given preference for increasingly scarce federal New Starts funding.

The MTA has successfully used the New Starts program to obtain billions from Uncle Sam to fund both the LIRR East Side Access project and NYC Transit Second Avenue subway. The NYCDOT proposal to fund construction of the Woodhaven SBS may be competing against the MTA NYCT second phase of Second Avenue subway ($6 billion), Staten Island North Shore SBS ($600 million) and others. There are dozens of other potential New Starts projects being championed by many other Senators and Congress members. The requests far exceed any available New Starts funding. There will be fewer winners and many more losers. Is Mayor de Blasio committed to proceed with the Woodhaven SBS project if federal assistance isn’t secured? He has pledged $295 million to support development and implementation of 13 new SBS/BRT systems. Will he reallocate funding from other SBS/BRT projects to support increased costs for Woodhaven Blvd. SBS? Are these dollars 100% city or is he counting on a combination of MTA, state and or federal resources?

Since Phase 1 is estimated to cost between $10 to $20 million, NYCDOT may need up to $380 million in secure funding before proceeding with advertising and award of Phase 2 construction contracts. This is necessary before the project can proceed into the full scope. How will the scope of work and procurements be coordinated with MTA NYC Transit and MTA Bus? Have they shared with the public, media and elected officials how many procurements will be required for exclusive bus lanes, new bus stops with shelters, off board fare collection equipment, purchase of new buses to support increased ridership and other project components? What is the estimated cost and funding source for each project component? Who will manage each procurement - NYCDOT or MTA?

Does NYCDOT continue to have the technical capacity (staff or consultants) to successfully implement this complex project along with twelve other ongoing SBS projects around NYC?

Has NYCDOT made public a detailed project budget, implementation schedule with interim milestones for each activity? The delayed construction start date of 2017 for Phase 1 may be easier to meet as the scope of work is far less complex. A construction start date of 2019 for Phase 2 may be more challenging given the far more complex nature of work and multiple contracts. NYCDOT Commissioner Trottenberg said that completion of the total project may take until 2025. Taxpayers, commuters, transit advocates, elected officials and the media have to ask if potentially waiting nine years before boarding the full Woodhaven Blvd. SBS is worth the price.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

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