Stringer Faults City for Traffic Woes
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The city’s traffic woes are drawing criticism from both sides of the East River as the president of Manhattan yesterday faulted the city for not enforcing anti-gridlock laws and a Queens group protested the construction of a school in what it says is an already congested neighborhood.
The Manhattan president, Scott Stringer, released a study that found that over a five-day period last month, traffic officers ignored more than 3,000 “block the box” violations in which drivers illegally encroached upon 10 busy intersections in the borough. Surveyors from Mr. Stringer’s office observed the intersections for nine hours each day and reported that while traffic officers were present more than half the time, not a single ticket was issued.
“We have a gridlock crisis in Manhattan, and it’s getting worse; it’s not getting any better,” Mr. Stringer said.
Mr. Stringer said the city should boost the number of officers who can enforce the law and write tickets, increase fines, and revive a “Don’t Block the Box” public awareness campaign that ran following a surge in gridlock traffic during the 1980s. Mr. Stringer plans to convene a major “traffic summit” in the fall to study what he sees as a broader traffic snarl in the city. The forum would consider possible initiatives to curb traffic, including congestion pricing.
City officials will meet with Mr. Stringer to discuss his proposals, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, Kay Sarlin, said.
The executive director of Transportation Alternatives, Paul Steely White, applauded Mr. Stringer for planning the conference and said traffic problems extend far beyond a lack of enforcement of the “block the box” laws.
The Police Department said its officers write plenty of tickets — nearly 10 million a year — but that writing more tickets wasn’t necessarily the answer. “Agents and officers often put their summons books away to direct heavy traffic through intersections and around stalled vehicles, particularly at rush hour,” the department’s chief spokesman, Paul Browne, said in a statement.
An overload of cars has irked outer borough residents as well. A group of Queens residents yesterday protested the city’s plan to build an 800-student school near the Queens Medical Center in Hillcrest, saying the neighborhood was already overburdened by traffic congestion. “Our neighborhood is saturated with cars,” the resident leading the rally, Robert Trabold, said.