Category Archives: New York City

Trump’s ‘sanctuaries’ crackdown imperils transportation projects

A tunnel under New York’s Hudson River may be imperiled. In Los Angeles, millions of dollars could be at stake for port improvements. And other communities’ hopes for major transportation projects could be caught in the crossfire as President Donald Trump threatens to strip federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that defy his immigration policies.
Considering that Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., have all declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, Trump’s reprisals could end up canceling or delaying major infrastructure projects in some of the nation’s most congested areas — even as the administration touts a $1 trillion proposal to rebuild the United States’ roads, railroads, bridges and airports.

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Triboro rail idea revived by transit think tank

The Triboro rail line would run between Co-Op City in the Bronx and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, with seven stations proposed for Queens.

New transportation options are all the rage in Queens, as the proposed light rail line in Glendale and reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line in central and South Queens have been popular talking points over the last few months and years.

So why not throw one more idea at the wall and see if it sticks?

The Regional Plan Association, the influential urban research think tank, has revived its long-discussed proposal to connect Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx with a commuter rail line called the Triboro, as the agency released an updated version of the plan in an eight-page report late last month.

According to the RPA, the Triboro would run 24 miles between Co-Op City in the Bronx and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, converting the freight-only rail right-of-way that connects the neighborhoods into a dual usage line that allows for commuter service.

In Queens — where the stretch of rail is owned by CSX from Astoria to the Fresh Pond Rail Yard and by the Long Island Rail Road from Glendale to Brooklyn — the train would run through Astoria, Jackson Heights, Woodside, Elmhurst, Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood before crossing the border.

The RPA has proposed seven stations in Queens, including:

• 23rd Avenue and 31st Street in Astoria, with an available transfer to the Astoria-Ditmars N and Q subway stop;

• Northern Boulevard and 64th Street in Woodside;

• Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, with an available transfer to the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue 7, E, F, M and R subway stop;

• Queens Boulevard between 73rd and 74th streets near where Elmhurst, Maspeth, and Woodside converge;

• Grand Avenue at Elmhurst Park;

• Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, with an available transfer to the Metropolitan Avenue M train subway stop; and

• Myrtle Avenue at Fresh Pond Road on the Glendale-Ridgewood border.

The RPA estimates a daily ridership of around 100,000 people and a cost between $1 and $2 billion to establish, with major capital investments being the creation of stations, signals and rail cars.

“Transit improvements are typically focused on moving people in and out of Manhattan,” the RPA said in its report. “Yet today, more New Yorkers commute within the outerboroughs than into Manhattan, and the city is gaining more jobs in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island than it is in the urban core.”

The agency added that commutes for residents traveling to and from work between the outer boroughs, which already average over an hour, according to the RPA, would be slashed significantly if and when the Triboro opens, as trains would run every five to 15 minutes.

“The Triboro would link employment hubs for manufacturing and industry in Hunts Point, northern Astoria, Maspeth and Bay Ridge,” the RPA wrote.

When the RPA originally proposed the plan in 1996 as a way to connect Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, some of the its designs had the Triboro terminating either at Yankee Stadium or Hunts Point in the Bronx instead of Co-Op City.

Those plans never gained traction with the city, as its focus has been on the Second Avenue Subway and other projects like the 7 Line Extension.

The RPA’s new proposal isn’t winning over Queens rail gurus, either.

Little Neck native Larry Penner, a transportation historian and retired U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration regional office director, said despite being a “great concept” in theory, the creation of the Triboro simply isn’t feasible in the near future.

“There are a ton of ideas for Queens, but there’s only so much transit money going around,” Penner said in a Monday phone interview. “This is a low priority.”

Penner also sharply criticized the RPA for its cost estimate, saying the $1-2 billion price tag is “fantasy.”

“In my professional opinion, it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build each station,” he said. “The RPA’s cost estimate is very naive. To build this new system, you’ll need rails, power, maintenance. It sounds like it would cost a heck of a lot more than what they’re saying it would.”

When it comes to possibly securing federal money to pay for at least a portion of the Triboro, Penner said neither the city nor the state would ever do so considering the MTA had already applied for a $500 million grant from the Federal Transit Adminstration’s New Starts program —which appropriates $2.3 billion each year — to help with the Second Avenue Subway project.

“The MTA doesn’t like to compete against itself,” he said. “In effect, they would be competing for grant money against themselves with the Second Avenue Subway and they’re not going to have this compete with the subway.”

Penner isn’t alone when it comes to Queens opposition to the Triboro.

Over the past few months, Community Board 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri Jr., a Glendale resident, has advocated strongly for both the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line — which closed over 50 years ago — and the creation of a light rail system connecting Glendale and Long Island City.

But when it comes to the Triboro, he isn’t impressed.

“l think this is overkill, without need or benefit,” Arcuri said in an email on Tuesday. “The real need in commuter rail is from the Rockaways to Manhattan and Jamaica to Manhattan, where the need and ridership is.”

An MTA spokesman said the agency had no comment on the plan when contacted by the Chronicle.

However, the representative said funding is in place to begin planning the extension of Metro-North Railroad service to the Bronx — with stations in Co-Op City, Morris Park, Parkchester and Hunts Point, areas that would be served by the Triboro — through to Penn Station.

That project is expected to begin after the East Side Access project — which will connect the Long Island Rail Road with Grand Central Terminal — is completed in 2023.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale), who proposed a light rail line to connect Glendale and Long Island City last year, didn’t mention the proposed Triboro by name in a Wednesday statement, but said the city’s focus should be on addressing public transportation issues in so-called transit deserts like southwest Queens.

“It’s critical that this city invest in opportunities for efficient public transportation,” Crowley said. “Not only will it take cars off the road and ease severe commuting burdens, but in the long-term it will help our environment and create a better New York for the future.

“I believe that right now, at this moment,” she continued, “a light rail through transit-poor communities in Queens should be a priority so residents, the economy and New York City as a whole can flourish.”

Christopher Barca, Associate Editor

Eight new things to look forward to in NYC this year

These eight new additions to the New York cityscape will probably change your life for the better at some point over the coming year.

1. The World Trade Center Transportation Hub
Amazing what $4 billion dollars can get you. After years of delays, the futuristic Santiago Calatrava-designed World Trade Center Transportation Hub is finally ready to open the first week of March. The downtown station (the most expensive in the world) will connect 10 subway lines with the PATH. Commuting to Jersey just got a lot more glamorous.

2. The Second Avenue subway
Speaking of delays… Knock on wood, but the MTA says that the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway will open in December of this year. That phase will extend Q train service from Midtown all the way up to 96th Street on the Upper East Side, relieving at least some of the congestion on the Lexington Avenue line. But you might not want to hold your breath on this one.

3. Wi-Fi in every subway station
As part of Governor Cuomo’s long-term plans for the New York City subway system (More countdown clocks! Renovated stations!), every single station should be equipped with free Wi-Fi by the end of the year. Finally, no need to remember which stations you can use your phone at and which ones are dead zones. Now, if we could get the trains to run on time…

4. The Panorama Music Festival
If this summer turns out to be as endless as the last one, then there’s definitely room for two major music festivals. Set to take place from July 22-24, two months after Governor’s Ball, this brand-new music festival will also take place on Randall’s Island and be headlined by a reunited LCD Soundsystem. The same team behind Coachella is producing the event so it’s bound to make a splash.

5. Penn Station renovations
Governor Cuomo laid out some pretty lofty goals for renovating Penn Station recently. Most of the projects are years away from completion (including a new train hall from Amtrak in the Farley building) but at least one part of the overhaul—a new concourse on the west side of Eighth Avenue—is set to open by the end of the year. Hey, we’ll take what we can get! The new Pennsy food hall that recently opened above the station is a pretty solid improvement as well.

6. Public gigabit LinkNYC Wi-Fi
Like the black monolith at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey, hundreds of sleek LinkNYC access points are beginning to replace phone booths all over the city. The new devices will include USB charging ports to give your phone battery some extra juice as well as providing super, super fast free wireless internet for anyone in the near vicinity. 500 hubs are set to be installed around New York by mid-July.

7. Citi Bike expansions
The bright blue bicycles continue their slow march across the city, with even more stations set to open by the end of the year. This year, new stations are set to open in Harlem, Central Brooklyn, Astoria and more, meaning you’ll be able to use your Citi Bike membership to go even farther.

8. Medical marijuana
It may be basically impossible to get, but at least it’s finally here!

Comparing the Big Dig’s costs to mega projects around the world

Tunnels, highways, and rail lines cost billions no matter where you build them.

Facts and figures are based on an article in the BOSTON GLOBE.

The price tag for Boston’s Big Dig ballooned from $2.6 billion to nearly $15 billion. And it was eight years behind schedule by the time it was done. How does that compare with some other mega construction projects around the world?

Gotthard Base Tunnel, Switzerland

Alaskan Way Viaduct, Seattle

  • Cost: $3.1 billion. Earthquake-damaged highway to be replaced by a tunnel. Under construction.

D.C. Metro Silver Line extension

  • Cost: $7 billion. New 23-mile rail line to Dulles International Airport. Under construction.

London’s Crossrail

Second Avenue subway, New York City

The Chunnel, English Channel

  • Cost: $21 billion. A 31-mile rail tunnel connecting England and France. Completed in 1994.

 

Rockaway Beach Rail Line in New York City

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) and federal and city politicians last Thursday called on the MTA to conduct a feasibility study on utilizing the Rockaway Beach Rail Line and other rights-of-way in the five boroughs.

“There is no greater asset to our transit network than existing rights-of-way. With the Rockaway Beach Rail Line and the other underutilized rights-of-way throughout the city, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make lasting improvements to our transportation network and meet the demands of our growing populations,” Goldfeder said during a meeting of the City Council’s Committee on Transportation. “As Queens residents, we are not asking for more than others, but rather for a fair share, to give our families the opportunity to thrive and grow.”

Goldfeder was joined by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn), a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and a supporter of restoring the abandoned rail line.

“Restoration of the Rockaway Beach Line would not only provide much needed fast and efficient train service to the Rockaways and southern Queens but would enable a true one-seat ride to Kennedy Airport from Manhattan,” Nadler said in a statement.

Goldfeder was testifying in favor of a resolution proposed by committee Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), which calls on the MTA to “conduct a comprehensive study of unused and underutilized railroad rights-of-way in New York City for the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of increased passenger service along such corridors.”

In a statement, Rodriguez indicated support for the Rockaway Beach Rail Line to be studied, among others in the city.

“With the MTA struggling for capital dollars for maintenance nonetheless expansion, it is incumbent on our city to evaluate the best and cheapest way to expand our public transit system: unused and lightly used rail,” he said. “Lines like the Rockaway Beach Line are ripe for development with minimal city and state funding, all we need to do is tap into these resources.”

During his testimony, Goldfeder pointed out the abandoned rail line would cost less to restore than the construction of the decades-in-the-making Second Avenue subway line.

“Phase I of the Second Avenue subway project will cost $4.45 billion to build less than 2 miles of track. By contrast, reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line could cost as little as $1 billion to create 3.5 miles of new train lines on the existing right-of-way,” the assemblyman said.

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U.S. transit agencies bolster security in wake of Paris attacks

Following last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris that left 129 dead and hundreds of others wounded, U.S. transit agencies have stepped up security measures.

Among agencies that announced tighter security yesterday is the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which has upped the number of patrols, K9 sweeps and random bag checks and screenings for explosives across its system.

WMATA announced its beefed-up security actions following news yesterday of a video from the terrorist group the Islamic State warning of similar attacks on Washington, D.C. The group claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris.

The additional patrols began Friday evening and will continue for an unspecified period of time, WMATA officials said in a press release. At the same time, the agency’s police department has more than 20 K9 teams performing security sweeps in and around rail stations and other critical infrastructure.

Additionally, WMATA’s police force and local and federal law enforcement partners have implemented several other countermeasures that “are not visible to the traveling public,” agency officials said.

At a news conference yesterday, WMATA’s Police Chief Ron Pavlik said that the agency also would increase monitoring of its closed-circuit security footage.

“In light of the events in Paris you can never be too careful,” Pavlik said, according to The Washington Post. “Although there’s no credible threat here [in] the United States, we can’t turn a blind eye to the events that occurred in Paris.”

For its part, Amtrak is deploying extra K9 units, uniformed personnel and long guns, according to the paper.

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last week directed state agencies, including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), to be on a heightened state of alert.

Additional personnel at these agencies have been deployed at high-density areas and large public gatherings, Cuomo’s staffers said in a press release.

PANYNJ police have also increased security at bridges, tunnels, rail, the World Trade Center and elsewhere.

The Hudson River and the Hudson River Railroad—1851

We welcome stories on the Hudson River and the Hudson River Railroad (later New York Central Railroad).

So we ran into a fantastic article on the Catskill Archive

The Hudson Riverand theHudson River Railroad—1851Published by Bradbury and Guild

The Hudson rises in a marshy tract in Essex county, east of Long Lake. Its head waters are nearly four thousand feet above the level of the sea. After receiving the waters of the Scroon on the north, and the Sacondaga, which flows from Hamilton county, on the west, it turns eastward until it reaches the meridian of Lake Champlain, where it suddenly sweeps round to the southward, and continues in a direct course to New York. One mile above Troy it receives the Mohawk River on the west, the latter being the largest stream of the two at their junction.

The entire length of the Hudson is three hundred and twenty-five miles. The picturesque beauty of its banks,—forming gentle grassy slopes, or covered with forests to the water’s edge, or crowned by neat and thriving towns, now overshadowing the water with tall cliffs, and now rising in mural precipices,—and the legendary and historical interests associated with numerous spots, combine to render the Hudson the classic stream of the United States.

The picture at the top is the Albany Night Boat.

Troy was a railroad center and had a Union Railroad that tied them all together.

Hudson River is named after Henry Hudson, by whom it was discovered in 1609.

THE ENTIRE LENGTH of the Hudson River Railroad, from Chamber street to Albany, is one hundred and forty-three miles and a quarter.

The principal object of interest at Sing Sing is the State Prison. It is situated upon the bank of the Hudson River, ten feet above high water mark. The railroad runs directly through the prison yard. The prison grounds comprise one hundred and thirty acres, and may be approached by vessels drawing twelve feet of water. The keeper’s house, workshop, &c., are built of rough “Sing Sing marble,” quarried from lands owned by the state in the vicinity. The main building is four hundred and eighty-four feet in length, running parallel with the river, and forty-four feet in width. It is five stories high, with two hundred cells upon each floor; in all, one thousand cells.

West Point, fifty-one miles from New York, is unquestionably the most romantic place upon the Hudson River. The approach to it is highly interesting. The village is placed upon the top of a promontory one hundred and eighty-eight feet above the river, where there is spread out a level plateau or terrace, more than a mile in circumference. The declivity is very steep on all sides, and the surrounding craggy hills seem to be nothing but masses of rocks, fantastically heaped by nature, crowding the stream below into a channel less than half a mile in width.

West Point is chiefly noted as the seat of the Military Academy, established here in 1802. The land—about two hundred and fifty acres—was ceded to the United States by New York in 1826. The buildings are two stone barracks occupied by two hundred and fifty cadets, the limited number; a large stone building, for military exercises in the winter, and as a depository for models of fortifications, &c.; a two-story stone building, with three towers, for astronomical purposes; a chapel, hospital, mess-rooms, &c., &c., and a number of other dwelling-houses for the officers of the institution.

Albany city, the capital of New York, is directly opposite Greenbush, with which there is constant communication by means of a ferry. The city is built upon a flat alluvial tract of land, along the margin of the river, from 15 to 100 rods wide, back of which it rises abruptly, attaining, within the space of half a mile, an elevation of 153 feet, and in one mile 220 feet above the river. Beyond this the surface is level. The older portions of the city are laid out very irregularly, and some of them are very narrow. The streets recently built are more spacious and regular. State street is from 150 to 170 feet wide, and has a steep ascent to the top of the hill. Many of the private, and more especially the public, buildings of Albany have fine situations, and overlook an extensive and a beautiful prospect.

The Capitol, which stands at the head of State street, on the hill, is a large stone edifice, 115 feet long, and 90 feet broad, fronting east, on a fine square. It contains spacious and richly furnished apartments for the accommodation of the Senate and Assembly, and various rooms for other public purposes. From the observatory at the top, which is accessible to visitors, a fine view of the city and surrounding country is obtained. The City Hall is on the east side of the same square, facing west, and is constructed with marble, with a gilded dome. The Albany Academy, built of freestone, adjoining the square, has a park in front of it; and both squares are surrounded by an iron fence, and constitute a large and beautiful public ground, laid out with walks, and ornamented with trees. The Exchange, at the foot of State street, is a commodious building of granite, constructed a few years since. The Post-office is in this building. It has also an extensive reading-room, supplied with papers and periodicals, both American and foreign, to which strangers are admitted without charge.