Williamsburg residents are taking traffic matters into their own hands.
A transportation survey, led by Organizations United for Trash Reduction And Garbage Equity (OUTRAGE), is being launched this month to address the nettlesome problem of truck traffic on local streets this month.
The initiative evolved from grassroots efforts in Williamsburg from advocates seeking to curb truck traffic on both residential streets and industrial corridors.
It is an issue that has been simmering for several years in meetings hosted by separate community based organizations, including St. Nicholas NPC, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee, and in town halls hosted by Councilmember David Yassky (D-Williamsburg) and Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg).
“Unfortunately, complaints aren’t enough, they get some attention, but to get results you have to back up complaints with data,” said Teresa Toro, chair of CB 1’s transportation committee.“If there’s heavy truck traffic at an intersection, that intersection is automatically less safe for pedestrians and needs special attention from DOT.”
Starting on October 15 and continuing through November 4, transportation advocates will begin to volunteer for OUTRAGE’s community truck survey.The study will update a previous survey conducted in 2004 to determine whether recent transportation policy changes have had any effect on truck traffic in Williamsburg and if there needs to be more enforcement from the city.
According to Alison Cordero, OUTRAGE member and St. Nicholas NPC Deputy Director for Community Preservation, Williamsburg still processes about 40 percent of the city’s garbage and trash.After the 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan, the Department of Transportation did a survey of truck traffic on Metropolitan Avenue, proposing to move some trucks to nearby Meeker Avenue, but OUTRAGE members disagreed with the proposed solution.
“The first step has been achieved with the shipping of residential trash by of rail from Waste Management’s Varick Avenuetransfer station, but the bulk of the reduction promised in the SWMP will not be in effect until the other two Brooklyn transfer stations open in 2013,” said Cordero.“OUTRAGE members and volunteers are working in the month of October to document trash truck traffic while we continue to work with the city, the community and elected officials to lessen the burden of trash processing on our community in the short and long term.”
NAG Transportation Working Group Chair Lacey Tauber is excited to help get the word out about the survey.Tauber explained that many Williamsburg residents protesting DOT changes to Kent Avenue were primarily concerned about the rerouting of truck traffic down North 11th Street, which is one of a larger set of concerns NAG has for the entire community.
“We would like to see the creation of a comprehensive, community-based transportation plan for CB1, and mitigation of truck traffic should be a major component of this plan,” said Tauber.“Identifying existing problem areas, and determining if, in fact, the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan has had any noticeable impact is a great first step in this process.”
At the September CB1 Transportation committee meeting, DOT rep David Woloch admitted they have not done enough to deal with truck traffic.While DOT officials have been encouraging of OUTRAGE’s efforts, North Brooklynresident Marin Tockman cautioned that residents upset at truck traffic should participate in the survey to document the extent of traffic flows in Williamsburg
“The DOT isn’t the complaint department. They’re just a city agency,” Tockman.“I think that a lot of the conflict between the city agency and community member is because one person sees it one way and the city sees it another way.Having community members be more involved, and articulate their concerns would give better statistics and analysis for this issue.”