RIOC: Plans? We don't need no stinking plans!

CANCELLED: Expect the Best, Prepare for the Worst - Roosevelt Island Bridge Testing on Wednesday

Updated 50 weeks ago David Stone
CANCELLED: Expect the Best, Prepare for the Worst - Roosevelt Island Bridge Testing on Wednesday
Tommy Gao at English Wikipedia / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

RIOC's advisory was a little too casual and of the "What the heck?" variety: The NYC Department of Transportation’s Division of Bridges will be conducting test openings on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 starting from approximately 10:00 AM- 2:00 PM. Expect intermittent delays of 8-12 minutes. Following the debacle during the first week of helix repairs, you just knew RIOC would be all over this one. Well, no, you really didn't, did you?

March 20th, 11:52 a.m. Nearly two hours after bridge testing was supposed to start, RIOC sent out an alert that it had been cancelled. No reason was given. Is it possible that DOT showed up and had an outbreak of common sense unavailable at 591 Main Street?

"How is this being coordinated with the helix construction?" I asked RIOC Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson.

The math is simple, if you've ever been stuck in a line extending out to Vernon Boulevard while the Department of Transportation raises and lowers the drawbridge connecting Roosevelt Island and Queens. Add in delays ongoing with helix repairs, add salt, stir... well, just add the helix delays. That's all you really need to get the potential for life-endangering emergency vehicle delays while waiting, first, for the bridge to go all the way up and pause before coming down, then waiting for the helix to clear, assuming you get all the way across the bridge in the first group.

Of course, RIOC quickly recognized the risks and planned accordingly.

Just kidding.

"The work is being done concurrently," Robertson responded, instantly creating my favorite in the contest for "Duh Moment of the Month."

I like Alonza. I wanted to give him a chance to think it over again.

"Obviously," I wrote. "How is it being coordinated between the two to limit disruptions, or is there, as it appears, no coordination at all?"

He decided it was time to take me to school, teach me a bureaucratic life lesson.

"DOT is not performing testing for that entire four-hour time period," he wrote, "that’s only the window of time that we’ve been told to expect them (think of it like when the cable provider tells you to expect the installer sometime between 10 and 2). Their work of raising and lowering the bridge, via the tests, will probably last no longer than 15 minutes."

But didn't RIOC's own alert predict "... intermittent delays of 8-12 minutes," not a single delay of "no longer than 15 minutes?"

"Thusly," he concluded, "no major coordination is needed."

To that, I can only quote Bob Dylan from Brownsville Girl: "Ah, you know some babies never learn."

So, be prepared and be cautious. RIOC appears ready to fumble another one. You'll be on your own.

If you get a chance, say you just happen to be passing 591 Main Street, drop in an let the good folks at RIOC know we live on an island with only a single car, truck or ambulance crossing. Dent of repetition might eventually get through to them.


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