May 2, 2005
Report on East End Transportation Futures Released
Pekka Paavonpera (Pekka.email@example.com)
The Institute for Sustainable Development released its latest report, Ending Gridlock: East End Transportation Futures, today. The report is an outgrowth of the Institute’s March 12, 2004 conference, which brought together regional transportation planners and citizen advocates to explore and analyze the Sustainable East End Development Strategies (SEEDS) planning process.
Institute Co-Directors, Scott Carlin and David Sprintzen, professors of Long Island University, and Christina Hamm and Lisa Brown, past Program Coordinators for the Institute, developed the report.
This report includes:
- Transportation Recommendations for the East End;
- A Review of the Sustainable East End Development Strategies (SEEDS) project;
- Commentaries from local elected officials and leaders of civic organizations;
What follows are some of the comments offered by Co-Director Scott Carlin at the press conference:
“In March 2005, the Institute for Sustainable Development hosted a regional conference on transportation. The purpose of that conference was twofold. First, the conference was an effort to improve the public’s understanding of the Sustainable East End Development Strategies, or SEEDS, planning process and the computer model used by SEEDS. A second purpose was to hear from a range of individuals not involved in SEEDS on how the East End can move forward on regional transportation planning.”
“There can be no doubt that the East End needs a new regional transportation plan and a strategy to fund and implement that plan. Rush hour commutes and seasonal traffic grow longer each year, negatively affecting the East End’s economy and quality of life.”
“For me, there are five major points that came out of the conference and this report.
First, the LIRR right-of-ways represent the single most underutilized transportation resource on the East End. The East End Towns and Villages should begin working together to analyze how we can most effectively use these corridors.
“Second, the East End communities currently lack adequate information on highway congestion. East End communities should develop stronger tools for informing the public about traffic delays by expanding coverage of East End roads on internet services like Metrocommute and Cablevisions’ traffic and weather channel. Local radio stations should be encouraged to focus more attention on traffic patterns and educating the public on ways to minimize travel delays.”
“One outcome from SEEDS could be a regional website devoted to transit services and traffic patterns – a single resource that can disseminate information on road construction schedules and bus, train, and ferry schedules.”
Third, we must not forget that land use plays a critical role in transportation. Without a concerted effort to maintain green spaces and direct future growth towards hamlet and village centers, the East End is going to continue to develop into a more suburbanized landscape; this will force us to remain overly reliant upon automobiles. The East End towns need to develop land use strategies that will encourage transit-oriented development (also known as smart growth) as our primary zoning tool for the 21st century.
Fourth, enacting the kinds of changes that the East End needs will require strong leadership and perhaps new modes of governance. Recently, Assemblyman Fred Thiele proposed the creation of a regional transportation authority. This idea merits further study regarding costs and likely outcomes. An Authority, however, will only have the backing of the five towns if they have already reached a consensus on their priorities.
The Institute hopes that Fred Thiele’s proposal will spark a wider discussion of governance. What will be the most effective governance structures for delivering regional transit services? What management structures will maximize public accountability?
“Finally, in striving for greater efficiency in transportation services, we must not lose sight of SEEDS’ larger framework, sustainability. There are many very important elements in transportation planning that continue to receive inadequate attention. Energy consumption for example is not adequately addressed by today’s transportation planning process. Also, our existing transportation system is highly inequitable. Large portions of our population do not own a car – for example, the young, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. And these segments of the population are poorly served by our existing transportation infrastructure. And many other segments of the population are impacted by these demographic factors. Soccer moms spend many hours of their day as chauffeurs. Many employers find it hard to find workers. And so on.”
“On the environment, in the 1990s it became popular on the East End to say that the “Economy is the Environment.” Yet our transportation system disregards this truism. Oil spills, road widening projects, and global warming illustrate that our transportation is out of balance with the environment and in need of very dramatic corrective action.”
“The goals of the SEEDS process are spelled out on the SEEDS website, www.seedsproject.com. The website clearly states that we need to develop new policies to reduce automobile dependency, improve regional environmental quality, and protect the East End’s vital cultural and community resources.”
It is our hope that this report, Ending Gridlock, will give the public a deeper appreciation of the SEEDS planning and computer modeling process and encourage public participation in SEEDS and transportation planning more generally.
For further information contact Prof. Scott Carlin. Southampton College Phone 631 287 8238