A hearing concerning transportation and traffic problems in the new county hub area (where gigantic commercial businesses are springing up like concrete daisies) was held on March 11 by the Nassau County Legislative Committee on Planning, Development and the Environment. Automotive congestion and mass transit inadequacies were the major concerns of most speakers.
Ideally, all mass-transit routes in Nassau County should lead to the centrally-located highly-urbanized hub in the Roosevelt-Mitchel Field area which stretches from Carle Place and Westbury along Old Country Road in the north to Uniondale and Hempstead along Hempstead Turnpike in the south.
Additional mass transit routes should extend out from the hub to all the peripheral suburban areas such as Great Neck, Port Washington, Bayville, Oyster Bay, Plainview, Farmingdale, Massapequa, Seaford, Freeport, Jones Beach, Long Beach, Cedarhurst, Elmont, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, etc., and the peripheral areas should be accessible to each other by connecting "beltways" along routes such as Northern Boulevard, Jericho Turnpike, Sunrise Highway, New Hyde Park Road, and others.
The principal presentation was made by Long Island's master planner, Lee Koppelman and his associates. They suggested a monorail or light-rail mass-transit system to connect points within the loop, with an interconnect to the LIRR in Carle Place. There was strong opposition from Carle Place and Westbury speakers to the Carle Place interconnect because of traffic and water concerns, and there was strong support for a Hempstead-LIRR interconnect which would help revitalize Hempstead's rundown business area.
Some opposed any mass-transit plan for the hub, saying it would only benefit developers and business interests who wanted to bring fans in to the planned new sports complex and hotels or to serve existing and future additional commercial development. And some favored additional improved mass-transit extensions throughout the county, which is what I have supported for more than 30 years.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, when I chaired Nassau County's Air Quality Citizens Advisory Committee (before I became involved in water issues), we had recommended that a monorail mass-transit system be installed along the median of the Long Island Expressway and of existing parkways and other roadways that a survey would determine to be needed. Our proposal died when the County Planning Commission of that day (to whom we reported) did not consider it worthwhile of further investigation. Had transportation and road traffic congestion been considered then, before the hub had been heavily built up (it is now about two-thirds developed, with most of the rest slated for development in approximately the next 20 years), the traffic would not be so dauntingly bad there at present, with the gridlock mess expected to get much worse in the future.
The Romans had it right more than 2,000 years ago. Urban hubs with outward radiating roads reaching to the farthest peripheral areas in each province enabled rapid transportation and communication between the central urban area and the distant satellite town. This is the pattern the far-sighted Romans set in Italy (with Rome as the main hub), in England (with London at the hub), in France (with Paris at the hub) and in Spain and other conquered areas in the old Roman Empire.
If we can't learn from the good roadworks the Romans produced, how about learning from the miserably bad planning that Nassau has undergone which has left us with far too few north-south highway corridors and a totally inadequate mass-transit system. Within 20 years, the traffic gridlock could be so critical with so many cars and trucks, and so few mass-transit facilities, that vehicles may not be able to get in or out of driveways and parking lots easily, and road traffic may move so slowly that biking might become the fastest way of travel, along with walking. During rush hours, this is sometimes the case in parts of Manhattan and Nassau's hub as well.
To paraphrase Santayana, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its errors."
(Julian Kane's Air Quality Committee produced Nassau's first published Bikeway Map that showed "Excellent, Good, Fair and Poor" bicycle routes in different colors.)