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New Traffic Ramps Threaten Entire Willets Point Project

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After trans fats and salt, Mayor Bloomberg is definitely taking on sawdust. Not in our food?though if that's a recurring problem, it's time try a different pizza place?just in general, because he really must hate the stuff right about now. Bloomberg's plan to redevelop Willets Point in Queens is still being fought by 20 business owners in the scrappy Iron Triangle. They're led by the family-owned Bono Sawdust Supply, and the group, called Willets Point United, has a fancy Park Avenue lawyer and what it feels is a smoking gun: traffic studies! Not quite the compromising photos of Mayor Bloomberg we were hoping for, but effective nonetheless.

The massive plan?apartments, offices, a hotel and more built in stages?includes two new ramps connecting Willets Point to the Van Wyck Expressway. The city needs the Federal Highway Administration and the state's Department of Transportation to approve the ramps so it can use eminent domain on the holdouts (agreements have already been struck for nearly 70% of the land at Willets Point). No one paid the ramps much attention during the rezoning battle, but now Willets Point United argues that the traffic volume created by the new development will overwhelm the Van Wyck, and the group is going all in with a legal challenge.

Long shot? Maybe. The city's environmental lawyer says the ramps will improve traffic by giving drivers more way to get on and off the Van Wyck, and reports have been submitted that back up those claims. Willets Point United, which has hired the lobbyist that helped kill big Bloomberg ideas like congestion pricing and the Kingsbridge Armory plan, is alleging that the city deliberately underestimated the traffic the project would create. A court battle looms, and the business owners could conceivably succeed in derailing the redevelopment plan, preserving Willets Point as a gritty industrial row just beyond the right field wall of Citi Field forever and ever, or until the next mayor has a go at them.
· Eager to Rebuild Willets Point, City Faces Legal Fight From Property Owners [NYT]
· Willets Point coverage [Curbed]