|Issue 259||March 3, 2000|
DOT documents and correspondence indicate the agency will seek to widen NY Routes 25, 347 and 112 in Brookhaven and Smithtown over the next few years.
The Campaign believes DOT modeling efforts for the "Long Island Transportation Plan 2000" and preparation of environmental review materials for the Brookhaven projects have produced estimates of traffic growth in the corridors for both "build" and "no-build" scenarios.
The Campaign has asked NYSDOT for these estimates several times since August 1999. The only reply from the agency was a December letter that vaguely defended the projects (Campaign information requests had not addressed the projects' merits) but ignored clear and repeated requests for data.
Civic leaders and smart growth advocates are worried that the highway expansion projects will do little but accelerate sprawl and traffic growth. Community groups have attempted to engage DOT in dialogue about local impacts of the pending projects, especially along Route 25, but to no avail.
"Our many meetings have obviously not resulted in a change of philosophy or policy with the Dept. of Transportation. The DOT stubbornly continues to try to resolve traffic problems by widening highways," said Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization (ABCO) president Connie Kepert.
Citizens along Route 25 in Middle Island have voiced interest in a project that would calm traffic and better accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. The DOT's project would increase through-lanes from two to four and also add a fifth lane for turning traffic. That plan will boost speeds, make the road even less hospitable for pedestrians and preclude any future redesign along pedestrian-friendly "smart growth" lines.
"ABCO and the communities which will be impacted by these projects need answers, and we believe the DOT has those answers," said Kepert. "We have officially requested that our state representatives step in and get the DOT to cooperate with us."