Why must New Yorkers put up with bad streets?
Driving through the streets of the City, one gets the impression that New York is one huge construction site. There is some type of construction activity on almost every other block. Contractors do not merely open up our roadways, and haphazardly put up barricades and divert traffic; they also use our streets to store their construction equipment and materials.
Putting up with the inconvenience that construction activity creates would be tolerable if the public could be assured that the contractors and utility companies working on our streets are not abusing the usable traveling space and will restore the roadway to its original smooth condition. All of this continuous, inadequately controlled construction activity has resulted in a roadway system that is possibly the worst in the nation in terms of rideability. In fact, in some areas of the City, the roadways are worse than you would find in some poor, third world country.
New Yorkers no longer have to suffer roadways that contain potholes, bumps, dips, sunken catch basins, open manholes and other sundry booby-traps. We have the technology, professional talent and resources to correct this dismal situation. What it takes is the political willpower. If our elected officials do not have the political will to address this problem, then the people of New York must demand it.
Our proposal dovetails neatly with the Mayor’s Vision Zero Initiative. We offer our “Smooth Streets” proposal in response to the Mayor’s appeal for ideas to make Vision Zero a reality. Having smooth and rideable streets will contribute to the overall plan of achieving the Mayor’s goal of zero fatalities on our City’s streets.
The American Engineering Alliance proposes that NYCDOT re-establish a “Smooth Streets Unit”, properly organized and staffed, and led by a Licensed Professional Engineer. In addition to coordinating and controlling the resurfacing and paving program, this unit will be directly responsible for strictly controlling street opening permits and ensuring that suitable traffic diversions and timely temporary and permanent restorations are made. Instead of spending many millions of dollars in rebuilding our streets let’s use a small portion of this money on making our streets smooth. This will go a long way in settling the rattled nerves of the New York driving public, and will surely contribute to raising the quality of life for most New Yorkers.
American Engineering Alliance: www.aeaworld.org
Louis R. Comunelli, P.E.
The recent catastrophic collapse of the Minneapolis bridge and the steampipe explosion in mid-town Manhattan highlight the urgent need to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Given the recent American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) failing report card of the nation’s infrastructure, it is imperative that Federal, State and City governments tackle this looming crisis in an aggressive and comprehensive way.
The American Engineering Alliance (AEA), a national Engineering organization founded in 1995 and representing Engineers from all Engineering disciplines and employment venues, is committed to elevating the role Engineers play in public life while promoting and protecting public health and safety. AEA has consistently advocated for the competent management of the nation’s infrastructure assets by licensed technical professionals, namely Professional Engineers (PE’S) and Registered Architects (RA’s). AEA has spoken out against the ominous trend by government entities, at the City, State and Federal level, of placing non-Engineering managers to oversee technical projects. Invariably non-Engineering managers stifle, intimidate or over-rule good Engineering judgment of the technical professionals they manage resulting in bad decisions and, sometimes, catastrophic and deadly results. To reverse this ominous and dangerous trend, AEA, along with its sister Engineering and Architectural Societies, recently introduced legislation in NY City Council calling for the creation of an office for the management of the City’s public and private infrastructure. This legislation (Resolution 195-2006) is sponsored by Councilmember Hiram Monserrate.
We hope that the recent tragic events will galvanize the public, as well as its elected officials, to quickly address the looming infrastructure crisis with both money and competent technical expertise free from political interference. Only by engaging the Engineering and Architectural Community, as well as other stakeholders, can we begin to solve this grave crisis.
We urge the Mayor to take the first step in addressing this vital issue by embracing the recommendations of Resolution 195-2006. We, in the Engineering and Architectural Community, firmly believe that the time is now for the City to have a Deputy Mayor for Infrastructure. We hope the Mayor, an Engineer himself and a visionary, sees the wisdom of this Resolution.
American Engineering Alliance