State officials unconvinced on Willets Point

August 13, 2010 10:00AM

Willets Point

For months, state officials have been privately questioning the safety, design and impact of highway ramps crucial to the $3 billion development of Willets Point in Queens, according to hundreds of e-mails that an opponent of the project fed to the New York Times. The state officials who have expressed concern are some of the same officials whose approval is needed for the project to move forward. “Unless the preparers of this report start accepting the idea that it is seriously flawed, we are going nowhere,” wrote Michael Bergman, a structural engineer for the state’s Department of Transportation Dec. 28, while reviewing the city’s application. The Bloomberg Administration has pushed hard for Willets Point, which would eventually have 5,500 apartments, office buildings, retail stores and a hotel in place of the auto repair shops, factories and junkyards in the area. The ramps in question are supposed to connect Willets Point to the Van Wyck Expressway, but officials have repeatedly been frustrated by the city’s inaccurate information and on the pressure it was placing on the state to finish its analysis quickly. Peter King, a state project manager, wrote to a colleague in January in response to a typo that stated the development’s expected completion date was 2107 instead of 2017: “Perhaps that reference to 2107 may have been closer to the truth than anyone realizes.” [NYT]