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Bumper-to-bumper nightmare - Residents demand solution to Verrazano traffic jams

Area lawmakers are touting new solutions to ease Brooklyn’s maddening traffic crunch.

The gridlock has worsened since June 2007 when a massive construction project began on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

“We have all experienced on both sides of the bridge for the past year some of the most nightmarish traffic conditions any of us could have ever imagined,” stated State Senator Diane Savino.

“To go a total of ten miles takes some people two hours,” she said.

Savino spoke out at a town hall meeting on May 1, where she and other lawmakers answered questions on a variety of topics. Savino was joined by Assemblymembers Alec Brook-Krasny and Janele Hyer-Spencer and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

The event was organized by the Bay Ridge Com-munity Council and was held at Xaverian High School at 7100 Shore Road.

Savino said speeding up the bridge repair work was a “short-term fix.”

She said she believed the long-term solution to be better communication and coordination between agencies.

“None of the agencies talk to each other,” Savino charged. “This lack of coordination leads to multiple projects being planned at the same time, with a ripple effect across the entire region.”

Savino said simultaneous work on the Gowanus Ex-pressway and Staten Island Expressway “added insult to injury” and worsened the traffic chaos caused by the Verrazano Bridge project.

Earlier this year Savino introduced a bill in the State Senate that would establish a New York City Transporta-tion Coordinator.

This person, appointed by the Governor, would work with the MTA, the city and state transportation departments, city planning and surrounding counties. They would be in charge of coordinating all projects.

Hyer-Spencer co-sponsored a similar piece of legislation in the Assembly.

Hyer-Spencer said the proposed umbrella position was a “fabulous answer to the lack of coordinated effort.”

Keeping with the theme of improving communication, Hyer-Spencer said that she had organized regular meetings between NYPD brass from Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Hyer-Spencer said she facilitated meetings between Brooklyn Patrol Borough South commanding officer Chief Joseph Fox and Staten Island Patrol Borough commanding officer Assistant Chief Albert Girimonte.

“They’d never sat in the same room,” Hyer-Spencer said, calling the situation “ridiculous.” She reported that the two chiefs now meet monthly, discussing how to use resources and place traffic agents to keep traffic flowing.

Hyer-Spencer also stressed the need for “creative, innovative future planning” to deal with transportation.

“We must start thinking outside of the box so that we have a viable, thriving, surviving community that is not choking on truck traffic,” she said.

One long-term option being mulled over by transportation officials is the idea of eventually replacing the Gowanus Expressway with an underground tunnel.

Hyer-Spencer said she had encouraged the state transportation department to continue funding this “explorative effort.”

Speaking at the town hall, Brook-Krasny said he believed improving public transportation was the key to alleviating traffic congestion.

Brook-Krasny said the city needed to consider a “comprehensive mass transit improvement plan.”

“In New York City, you drive because you have to drive. You drive because you don’t have mass transit,” Brook-Krasny said.

Gentile said he was familiar with community concerns about heavy traffic and extra trucks.

“I think when the lower level (of the Verrazano Bridge) is done

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