Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another mishap at the T-Bone

Wednesday, October 24, 2007, about 12:15 p.m. That semi-trailer on the left, marked "tex", is stuck. Was it hit by someone at the T-Bone, did it just happen to run out of gas right there ? It wouldn't be right there, with another semi trying to get around it, if there were a proper acceleration ramp.

Suing the State for Dangerous Highway Condition

The State of New York has a special court, the Court of Claims, that has jurisdiction for such cases. See, for example, the case of Bauer v. State of New York (2006).

The bottom line, of course, is that the taxpayer pays, as he always does, for the negligence of the officialdom. How much have Court of Claims highway decisions cost the public ? How much has been paid by the State in out-of-court settlements ? And how much, specifically, has the T-Bone of Congress Street cost the public -- quite aside from the cost in human suffering ? These are some of the questions that I hope to explore in future postings.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

ANOTHER accident: Thurs.,10/18/07, 11 p.m.

Well, here we go again. Another accident, Thurs., 10/18/07, about 11 p.m. And don't forget, I only photograph the ones I happen to see.

These constant accidents constitute notice, "constructive notice" as the lawyers say, that this is not a safe entrance to the highway !

Governments like to hide data on traffic deaths

It seems that the NYCPD and the state's DOT are not alone in foot dragging when it comes to revealing traffic accidents and traffic deaths. Here is an eye-opening story from the Honolulu Advertiser.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mr. Bloomberg comes through -- sort of

Dear Mr. Mayor,

It's probably just a coincidence. But hours after I wrote to you last, the Police Department has recognized my FOIL application.

Out of three possible cheers, the city deserves at least one for this spurt of activity. At least one, but not quite two, and certainly not three, and here's why:

1) The NYPD letter is dated 9/28/07 but was received by me only yesterday, 10/15/07. It was stamped by a Pitney Bowes machine that does not give mailing date.

2) The letter maintains that my FOIL request was received 9/5/07 while the USPS reports delivery on 8/22/07.

3) The letter states that because of press of other work, etc., "it is anticipated that your request will require more than twenty days." How much longer ? "It is anticipated that a determination will be reached on 1/5/07." That's the date on which the Department will decide on whether to supply the information. And on what date will that take place, exactly ? One, five, zero SEVEN ? Yes, that's what is says.

Well, I don't know. Does all this add up to efficiency ?

In the meantime, Mr. Mayor, there are constant accidents here. As I never tire of saying, the spot is one where fatalities are just waiting to happen.

Respectfully yours

Werner Cohn

Second accident within the hour

Tuesday, October 16, about 3:55 p.m. Less than an hour after the last accident, the school bus (not shown in this view) still awaiting removal, and here is yet another accident. Not a trivial one either; you can see the ambulance. IMHO: Whatever it may cost to fix this t-bone, it would be less than the cost -- in money and human suffering -- of these round-the-clock accidents.

I should point out that I cannot possibly document all the accidents that occur. I look out of the window from time to time, and when I see an accident I photograph it. But I am not a 24/7 surveillance camera. So obviously, what you see on this blog can only be a fraction of what goes on down below in the eye of the t-bone.

Tuesday, Oct. 16 -- another incident


This incident occurred at about 4 p.m., today, Tuesday, October 16, 2007. Some spot, same t-bone problem. This incident involved a school bus loaded with children.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Still another accident, Sun., Oct. 14, 2007

Sunday, October 14, about 9:30 p.m. Another one of those accidents at this t-bone entrance. This one was certainly more serious than a fender-bender. The affected car needed to be carted away.

Mr. Mayor, Sir, Why Not Obey the Law ?

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Dear Mr. Mayor,

Nice picture of yourself here, don't you think ? And all those law enforcement officers applauding ! But there is a little matter that I need to bring to your attention about of law-abiding, or rather the opposite, on the part of the city.

I have this little blog called BQEWatch, in which I try to point attention to a dangerous entrance to the BQE. How do I know it's dangerous ? Well, to be perfectly honest, I cannot be sure that it's more dangerous than it should be (although I have documented quite a few accidents on it within a period of weeks). I don't know EXACTLY how many people have died at this spot, and I don't know its safety record in comparison with other, safer BQE entrances.

For this reason I have requested the New York Police Department, which is charged with patrolling this highway and with keeping records of accidents on it, to give me the relevant figures. I have made this request under the Freedom of Information Law, FOIL. You will find all the details of my request on my blog.

Well, to get back to obeying the law. FOIL requires a response within five days. My FOIL request, according to Post Office records, was delivered at 8:01 a.m. on Wednesday, August 22, 2007. Today it is October 15. I have not heard from the NYPD at all. Not a word. I phoned the relevant bureau one day and was told that the request is undoubtedly in the building somewhere, and that, no doubt, it will be found soon and properly taken care of. When I volunteered to send a duplicate request, I was told no no no, absolutely do not do that, it would duplicate and complicate matters no end.

So, Mr. Mayor, can you help out on this ?

Many thanks.

Werner Cohn

N.B. The version of this letter submitted to the Mayor had to be somewhat shortened because the Mayor's e-mail arrangement limits messages to 300 words.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Ten worst highway junctions in the world

The British publication Auto Express has an interesting story, with pictures, concerning the ten worst auto junctions in the world. Apparently our t-bone thing on the BQE ranks eleven or so, and for that reason it's not mentioned in this article. But good reading for anyone interested in Death on the BQ Express !

Monday, October 1, 2007

Police Department not responding to FOIL request

To understand just how dangerous the BQE t-bone is at Congress Street, we need to know the frequency of accidents and fatalities at that site, in comparison with sites that have relatively safe ramps. The NYPD, charged with policing the road, has this information. And I requested it, as the readers of this blog know, in August, in accordance with FOIL, the New York State Freedom of Information Law. The Post Office has confirmed delivery to the NYPD on August 22, 2007.

Under the law, the NYPD is required to respond within five days to FOIL requests. Today it is October 1, and I have had no response, despite my phone calls and other follow-ups.

The police department is organized to enforce the law and, obviously, to obey it. But it seems to have a little trouble doing so, at least in this instance.

I might add that I sent an identical FOIL request to the State's Department of Transportation (DOT), which is in charge of the highway, on September 5. I have not heard from this agency either. Could it be that the FOIL function in these agencies is underfunded ? If they had more personnel assigned to this work, perhaps they could at least refuse the information in a timely manner.

Here are the relevant portions of FOIL

3. (a) Each entity subject to the provisions of this article, within five business days of the receipt of a written request for a record reasonably described, shall make such record available to the person requesting it, deny such request in writing or furnish a written acknowledgment of the receipt of such request and a statement of the approximate date, which shall be reasonable under the circumstances of the request, when such request will be granted or denied, including, where appropriate, a statement that access to the record will be determined in accordance with subdivision five of this section. If an agency determines to grant a request in whole or in part, and if circumstances prevent disclosure to the person requesting the record or records within twenty business days from the date of the acknowledgement of the receipt of the request, the agency shall state, in writing, both the reason for the inability to grant the request within twenty business days and a date certain within a reasonable period, depending on the circumstances, when the request will be granted in whole or in part. Upon payment of, or offer to pay, the fee prescribed therefor, the entity shall provide a copy of such record and certify to the correctness of such copy if so requested, or as the case may be, shall certify that it does not have possession of such record or that such record cannot be found after diligent search. Nothing in this article shall be construed to require any entity to prepare any record not possessed or maintained by such entity except the records specified in subdivision three of section eighty-seven and subdivision three of section eighty-eight.
(b) All entities shall, provided such entity has reasonable means available, accept requests for records submitted in the form of electronic mail and shall respond to such requests by electronic mail, using forms, to the extent practicable, consistent with the form or forms developed by the committee on open government pursuant to subdivision one of this section and provided that the written requests do not seek a response in some other form.

For the complete text of my FOIL request, please click here.