Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Road Construction

Constant road construction is just a fact of life in this city - it's a big town with crumbling streets.  Somewhere, something always needs repair.  I understand this, but sometimes I wonder if the city could be a bit more efficient.  For instance, the city has decided to rebuild a stretch of Flatbush Avenue from the foot of the Manhattan Bridge to Fulton Street.  They are ripping out the old divider that runs down the middle of the street, and replacing it with a prettier, new one.  The new divider will be a tad wider and have room to plant trees.  Trees are nice; we could always use a greener city.  Not a problem so far.

But, the city is also starting repainting work on the Brooklyn Bridge.  And, to give the workers room to work, the city has closed the bridge to Manhattan bound traffic nightly.  So, all this traffic has to now take the Manhattan Bridge instead, and drive down Flatbush Avenue, which is under construction.  So, traffic is a bit of a mess, especially at the corner of Tillary and Flatbush.

One might think the city would only work on one of these projects at a time, to keep the traffic and chaos from getting out of hand.  But, such thinking implies that one thinks the city uses common sense.  Trust me, they don't.  For example, while the Brooklyn Bridge is closed to Manhattan bound traffic, Brooklyn bound traffic is rerouted over the Manhattan bound side of the bridge.  Because we are driving on the wrong side of the bridge, the onramps from the FDR are closed, as is the entrance from Park Row.  The only entrances kept open are the ones from Pearl Street and Chambers Street.  Anybody coming from the west would usually take Chambers Street, but it is closed between West Street and West Broadway because of another construction project.
I often head to the bridge using West Street.  It is a fast multi-lane road (often called the West Side Highway, which it isn't), and is the best way to get to downtown Manhattan from the West Side.  Now, I would usually take Chambers Street across (shown in red above), but it is closed, so I need to detour.  I could try Murray to Greenwich to Park Place to Church to Chambers (orange route), but Park Place is the street that the Ground Zero Mosque is on, and it is sometimes closed without warning for security reasons.  It can be an annoying surprise to discover it closed, because I must detour back to West Street.  So, the route I must take is Vestry to Greenwich to Duane to Broadway to Chambers (green).  And, on this route, both Greenwich and Broadway are under construction, but open.  A pain in the ass.

And, construction projects in New York can last an awful long time.  Here's a photo of the traffic circle at 110 Street and Central Park West:
This particular circle has been just recently been rebuilt.  It was under construction for as long as I've been driving cab - for eight years.  Eight years to rebuild one lousy, not particularly large roundabout.  Work in the city plods along at an agonizing rate.  The unions milk projects for as long as the can, the NYCDOT is damn near incompetent, and somebody is probably skimming somewhere.  Take a look at the World Trade Center, which is still many years from completion.  Everything in this city takes too much time.

Things used to move quickly though.  The first subway took only four years, and the Empire State Building was completed in only sixteen months.

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