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Sea Level Rise From Climate Change Could Turn New York Into Venice

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Malcolm Bowman (photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Malcolm Bowman, an oceanography professor from Stony Brook University in Long Island, stood at the snow-covered edge of the Williamsburg waterfront and pointed toward the Midtown skyline. "Looking at the city, with the setting sun behind the Williamsburg Bridge, it's a sea of tranquility," he said. "It's hard to imagine the dangers lying ahead."

But that's his job.

He said that as climate change brings higher temperatures and more violent storms, flooding in parts of the city could become as routine as the heavy snows of this winter. We could even have "flood days," the way we now have snow days. Bowman and other experts say the only way to avoid that fate and keep the city dry is to follow the lead of the Dutch and build moveable modern dykes. Either that or retreat from the shoreline.

The city got a glimpse of such destructiveness with the December nor'easter of 1992, when massive flooding shut down the PATH train and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Again, in the summer of 2007, a flash storm dumped so much rain so quickly that the subways were paralyzed. Afterward, the MTA removed 16,000 pounds of debris from its tracks and spent weeks repairing electrical equipment.

For the rest of the story,  maps and other images showing New York's vulnerability to extreme storms in an age of climate change, go to wnyc.org.

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Sea Level Rise Could Turn New York Into Venice, Experts Warn

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

WNYC

Malcolm Bowman, an oceanography professor, recently stood at the snow-covered edge of the Williamsburg waterfront and pointed toward the Midtown skyline. "It's a sea of tranquility," he said. "It's hard to imagine the dangers lying ahead."

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Initial Reaction to Gateway Tunnel, Son of ARC, is Positive

Monday, February 07, 2011

Route of defunct ARC project in blue; route of proposed Gateway Tunnel in red.

(New York - Jim O'Grady and Kate McGee, WNYC) Gateway Tunnel--bride, son, mutant offspring of ARC--you choose--has been unveiled.

Amtrak President Joseph Boardman joined New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez on Monday to pledge $50 million for an engineering and planning study of a new trans-Hudson rail link between New York and New Jersey. It was the first of many steps if the $13.5 billion project is to come to fruition.

Like ARC, which was canceled by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for potential cost overruns, the Gateway Tunnel is meant to address a bi-state rail crisis.

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Problems Facing Metro-North's New Haven Line Were Years in the Making

Sunday, February 06, 2011

WNYC

Riders on Metro-North's New Haven Line will wake up Monday to find their rush hour service on already overcrowded trains cut by 10 percent. Railroad officials are blaming bad weather for a backlog of repairs that has left them with too few train cars to meet the demands of regular service. But don't count on good service was once the wintry conditions pass.

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Metro North Debacle Won't End Soon

Friday, February 04, 2011

(New York -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Riders on Metro-North's New Haven Line will wake up Monday to find their rush hour service on already overcrowded trains cut by ten percent. Railroad officials are blaming bad weather for a backlog of repairs that has left them with too few train cars to meet the demands of regular service.

The line carries commuters to New York City from points north, including Connecticut. Explanations of the debacle imply good service will be back up once the wintry conditions pass.

Don't count on it.

For the rest of the story, read here.

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Some Brooklyn Bus Riders Get Real Time Bus Info

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

WNYC

Riders of the B63 bus from Cobble Hill to Bay Ridge can now track their bus by mobile phone or computer.

Real-time information about buses along the route is available by Google Map and a dedicated website. Riders can also text a code number for their stop and be texted back about when the next bus should arrive.

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MTA Pilot Program Lets Riders Use Phones to Track Buses

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

WNYC

Riders of the B63 bus from Cobble Hill to Bay Ridge through Park Slope and Sunset Park can now track their bus by mobile phone or computer.

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NYC Mass Transit Facing Another $100 Million Cut

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

(New York - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) The MTA says New York

The NYC MTA is facing a sharp cut to an already tight budget.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's call for a $100 million cut from its already squeezed budget will be painful. But the authority insists it can be done without additional fare hikes or service cuts. Still, riders might see dirtier buses and trains.

Bill Henderson of the Permanent Citizens Advisory

Committee to the MTA says all of the low-hanging fruit has been plucked from the authority's budget. Last year the MTA cut two trains, dozens of bus routes, added several minutes to most commute times, halved the cleaning schedule for trains, and laid off hundreds of workers. Henderson says he worried the new round of cuts could mean longer waits for riders, postponed maintenance and less frequent cleaning of stations, trains and buses.

"That's a lot of money and until I see where the money is coming from that doesn't have an impact on the riders, I'm going to be nervous about impacts on the riders," he said.

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Cuomo to Cut MTA Budget By $100 Million

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

WNYC

The MTA said Governor Andrew Cuomo's call on Tuesday for a $100 million cut from its already squeezed budget will be painful but can be done without additional fare hikes or service cuts. Still, riders may see dirtier buses and trains.

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Planners Say NY's Economy Will Strangle If Airports Don't Expand

Thursday, January 27, 2011

(New York - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Managing air traffic at New York's major airports is like coaxing three large men through a skinny door: the squeeze is tight and there's no room to grow. That's why the Regional Plan Association issued a report on Thursday calling for a major expansion of Kennedy and Newark airports. The only way out, they say, is to build.

Planners kibbitz at a conference about airport expansion in New York

New York's three major airports, which already lead the nation in congestion and delays, can expect an increase of almost 50 million yearly passengers by the 2030s. The Association says the way to handle all those people is to build new runways to handle more flights.

LaGuardia has no room to expand. So RPA is proposing to add a runway to Newark-Liberty by demolishing and rebuilding a terminal and moving two cargo areas. It also recommends adding a runway to JFK by filling in part of Jamaica Bay. Total estimated price tag: $15 billion.

Taking advantage of the new runways depends on installing a new flight control system that replaces radar with GPS, allowing planes to follow more efficient flight patterns while flying closer to each other. The Federal Aviation Administration is in the early phase of a 20-year, $22 billion roll-out of the technology, called NextGen, which will need to prove itself in field conditions.

RPA considered other options, such as shifting some of the burden to local airports like Stewart in Newburgh and MacArthur in Long Island, along with improving rail connections to the airports and between cities. The report says those improvements would bring gains but not nearly enough.

Area airports currently move 236 flights per hour during peak hours. In 20 years, given increased demand, they will need to add 78 additional peak hour flights. RPA concluded that only more runways and a drastically improved flight control system will add enough flights to approach that number.

But airport expansions, besides being costly, bring more noise to local neighborhoods and carry environmental costs. On the other hand, expansion advocates say, doing nothing will slowly overwhelm area airports and, by 2030, cost the regional economy as many as 125,000 jobs, $6 billion in wages and $16 billion in sales each year.

At a conference on Thursday that brought together business and political leaders to absorb and discuss RPA's findings, a group of planners chatted during a break about the political battles that surely lay ahead. Then grew quiet until one of them said: "Are you ready? Strap in."

Listen to Jim O'Grady discuss this story on WNYC's Financial 411:

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Expanding Area Airports Is a Must to Answer Demand, Say Planners

Thursday, January 27, 2011

WNYC

Two of New York's major airports will need major expansions to handle the expected increase of 50 million passengers annually by the 2030s, according to a report issued by the Regional Plan Association Thursday.

 

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NJ Refuses to Repay $271 Million to Feds for Axed Arc Tunnel

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WNYC

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told the Federal Transit Administration Tuesday night that he would refuse the agency's demand to have the state pay $271 million for early work done on the cancelled trans-Hudson ARC Tunnel. 

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Down to the Wire on Whether NJ Will Pay $271 Million for Cancelling ARC Tunnel

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

(New York - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) The clock is ticking on a proposed deal between the feds and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie over his decision in October to cancel the ARC rail tunnel under the Hudson because of projected cost overruns.

Christie has until the end of today to decide whether he will reimburse the Federal Transit Administration $271 million spent on ARC. In exchange, the agency would then turn around and hand back $128 million to the state for projects that improve air quality by cutting traffic congestion.

Meanwhile, earlier today Christie told Bloomberg TV: "We're having conversations with Mayor Bloomberg and others regarding the extension of the No. 7 train to Secaucus, New Jersey, which would do what we really wanted the ARC tunnel to do originally." (See WNYC for the full story.)

Governor Christie has said the state doesn't owe the money. Last month, he directed New Jersey Transit to hire Patton Boggs, a high-powered Washington law firm, to make the case for him with the federal government--by lawsuit, if necessary. The firm now stands ready to file suit if an agreement isn't reached in the next several hours.

"We have until midnight tonight," said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak earlier today. "We have about seven hours and forty-nine minutes, something like that. We expect that our attorneys in Washington will be filing a timely response today."

Asked at a transportation conference in Washington how the negotiations were going, FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff declined to comment. The agency has already granted the state two extensions on an original deadline of December 24.

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East Side Buses, After Sluggish Start, Now Save Riders Time

Friday, January 21, 2011

WNYC

After a slow start, Select Bus service on First and Second Avenues is consistently faster than the old M15 express bus service, according to new data from the MTA. 

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MTA Moves Closer to Electronic-Only Tolling

Thursday, January 20, 2011

WNYC

"We're here to usher in a new era in toll collection," said MTA chairman Jay Walder when announcing that drivers are one step closer to cashless tolling on the agency's nine crossings, "the beginning of the end of the toll booth."

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Senator Schumer And Governor Christie Trade Rhetorical Blows Over ARC Tunnel

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sen. Schumer to business breakfast: NJ Gov Christie's pulling the plug on ARC Tunnel was "terrible decision."

(New York - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) If U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was spoiling for a fight when he addressed a business breakfast this morning about regional transportation policy, he got one--from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. That's because the heart of his forty-minute speech was a scathing critique of Christie's decision to kill the $9 billion ARC rail tunnel under the Hudson.

"I believe pulling the plug on ARC was a terrible, terrible decision," Schumer said.

He pointed out that bridge and tunnel crossings between New York and New Jersey are now at capacity as more than a quarter million people commute from and through New Jersey to New York each day, a number that is expected to grow at least 25% in coming decades. He also said the tunnel would have brought thousands of construction jobs to the region and raised property values in large parts of New Jersey. And construction on it had already begun.

"This was not just a project in the planning stages," Schumer said. "There were explicit funding commitments from the Port Authority and the federal government. It was the largest public works project in the country, coming right here."

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Schumer, Christie Trade Barbs on Decision to Kill Rail Project

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

If Senator Charles Schumer was spoiling for a fight when he addressed a business breakfast about regional transportation policy Tuesday morning, he got one from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. That's because the heart of his 40-minute speech was a scathing critique of Christie's decision to kill the $9 billion ARC rail tunnel under the Hudson.

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Christie Vs. Schumer on ARC - Round 4

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

(New York - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) First, U.S. Senator Schumer took the podium at a business breakfast this morning and slammed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for killing the $9 billion ARC rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

Easy for you to say, retorted a spokesman for Governor Christie, when New York will be on the hook for "zero, zilch, nothing" if the project goes over budget--perhaps by several billion dollars.

In response, a spokesman for Schumer accused Christie of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" by not negotiating with the Feds about relief from potential cost overruns, thereby costing area workers "tens of thousands of jobs in the near future and ease travel for millions of commuters." He added that by terminating the tunnel, Governor Christie had "flushed $6 billion in federal and Port Authority money down the tubes.”

Now Christie's spokesman, Michael Drewniak, has made yet another reply. "We are very comfortable with our decision on behalf of New Jersey and its taxpayers," he said.  "Senator Schumer embraces deficit spending, we do not."

Drewniak concluded by implying that Schumer's 30 years in Congress have made him something of a free-spender: "He’s been in Washington a long time."

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Schumer vs. Christie -- Round 3 in ARC Tunnel Bout

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) If words were wrestling holds, Senator Schumer just slipped Governor Christie's suplex and countered with a double-knee facebreaker. Or at least their spokesmen did.

This morning, Schumer told local leaders at a breakfast that Christie made a "terrible, terrible decision" in October by shutting down the ARC commuter tunnel under the Hudson River. In response, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said it was all too easy for Schumer to call for the reinstatement of a "boondoggle" with projected cost overruns that would be borne by New Jersey but cost New York "zero, zilch, nothing." He added that the only way Schumer could have made his remarks was if he "didn't brush up on the topic before he spoke" or was merely scoring political points.

Now Schumer spokesman Mike Morey has answered back.

“The people who are out of work in New York and New Jersey are not interested in insults, they are interested in jobs," Morey said in an email to WNYC. "Thousands of people could be put to work today on a project that will create the infrastructure we need to create tens of thousands of jobs in the near future and ease travel for millions of commuters. You don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, and in this case thousands of jobs. Rather than come to the table and work with federal officials to deal with overruns, and preserve an asset everyone agrees is needed in the region, the Governor’s decision flushed $6 billion in federal and Port Authority money down the tubes.”

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NJ Governor Christie Hits Back at Schumer on ARC Tunnel

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

(New York - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Governor Christie's spokesman Michael Drewniak isn't pulling his punches over New York U.S. Senator Charles Schumer's criticism on the ARC tunnel.  Earlier today, Schumer blasted Christie for making a "terrible, terrible" decision to kill the $9 billion commuter rail train under the Hudson.

"Where was the senior senator from New York with funding alternatives to a project that was predicted to run billions over projections – all of which were to be borne by New Jersey and its taxpayers?," Drewniak said. "This was a ‘bi-state’ project for which Senator Schumer’s state and the federal government were set to pay zero, zilch, nothing for the cost overruns.   We can live with the criticism while protecting taxpayers from this boondoggle, which was simply a bad deal for New Jersey."

Drewniak went further in questioning Senator's Schumer's timing and motivation in slamming Governor Christie's decision on ARC, which was made in October.

"I’ll also give Senator Schumer the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t brush up on the topic before he spoke.  Unless, of course, his remarks are merely political, which is always a possibility," Drewniak said.

No reply yet from Senator Schumer on this latest round of comments.

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